Creating an Asthma-Friendly School

Creating an Asthma-Friendly School

More than six million children under the age of 18 suffer from asthma in the United States. An asthma attack can happen anywhere – even at school. What can parents and schools do to ensure these students are safe and ready to learn?

The American Lung Association has put together these tips leaving site icon to help.

Know Your At-risk Students  
Does your school's health form include questions about asthma? Tracking students with asthma can ensure they receive proper health services. The American Lung Association provides resources to help. Check out the Maximizing School Health Services leaving site icon section of the Asthma-Friendly Schools toolkit. 

File Asthma Action Plans 
Students’ physicians can help develop a care plan that clearly outlines what should be done when asthma symptoms strike. Teachers and school staff should keep copies of the asthma action plan for students they see on a regular basis.

Allow Access to Quick-relief Medicines 
State law allows students to carry and use asthma medicines at school. School policies can vary, though. Schools should let parents know if they require a medication release form leaving site icon so children can use their inhaler or other medication.

Keep the Air Clean 
Poor indoor air can trigger asthma symptoms. Keep an eye on asthma triggersleaving site icon Mold, pet dander, air fresheners and cleaning chemicals are all culprits. Use the Healthy Air Classroom Checklist leaving site icon from the American Lung Association. 

Be Prepared for an Emergency Situation  
Knowing what to do in an asthma emergency can save lives. Learn more about asthma emergency protocolsleaving site icon  

Go Tobacco Free 
Keep the school community safe with a tobacco-free policy. leaving site icon Make sure the policy covers both indoor and outdoor areas. 

Employ a Full-time Registered Nurse 
School nurses are uniquely qualified to provide health services and health counseling to students. They can also help motivate parents and link them to resources in the community. 

Educate, Educate, Educate 
Teachers, school staff, parents and children can all benefit from asthma education.

  • For adults, Asthma Basics leaving site icon helps them better understand the illness and how to prevent an asthma emergency.
  • For kids ages five to 10, Lungtropolis® leaving site icon is an engaging web-based game that also offers information and resources for parents and caregivers. 
  • For kids ages eight to 11, Open Airways For Schools® leaving site icon teaches about asthma in an interactive and supportive group environment.

Reduce Exposure on High Pollution Days 
Outdoor air pollution makes breathing more difficult for everyone. Check AirNow.gov leaving site icon on a daily basis for local air quality info.  

Encourage Safe Physical Activity 
Students with asthma and their caregivers may be concerned about over exertion. By following the steps outlined above, you can help everyone feel confident that students with asthma can safely take part in physical activities. The Asthma-friendly Schools Initiative Toolkit leaving site icon offers strategies to use throughout the school year.

How asthma-friendly is your school? Use this checklist leaving site icon from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to see if you’re providing a supportive environment.

To learn more about asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website.

Sources: Asthma-Friendly School Initiative Toolkit, leaving site icon American Lung Association, 2020; How Asthma-Friendly is Your School, leaving site icon National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 2013.

Originally published 6/27/2016; Revised 2021

Anonymous