For parents of children with asthma, back-to-school preparations mean more than just buying school supplies and new clothing—it is also the time to start taking proactive steps to involve your school’s health services in the management of your child’s asthma.
Asthma in Vermont
Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames and narrows the airways of the lungs. Vermont has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country, affecting 11.1 percent of all adults and 10 percent of all children.
In Vermont, the good news for children with asthma is that Vermont was just ranked the highest in statewide public policies supporting people with asthma, food allergies, anaphylaxis and related allergic diseases in US elementary, middle and high schools by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) 2015 State Honor Roll of Asthma and Allergy Policies for Schools. (View full report.)
As part of this commitment, Vermont has created the Vermont Asthma Program to help eliminate health disparities caused by asthma and improve the quality of life of all Vermonters affected by asthma. Part of this plan is the promotion of Asthma Action Plans in all ages, especially in school-aged children.
What You Can Do to Make Sure Your Child Stays Healthy at School
Treating asthma is a “team effort” that should involve you, your child, their primary care doctor and their school. If your child has asthma, it is recommended that you should have an Asthma Action Plan in place with your child’s primary care doctor and that you share that plan with your child’s school health services.
Contacting your school about your child’s asthma and providing them with your plan can also provide you with the opportunity to get to know the school nurse and any other health services staff. If an asthma emergency arises or prescriptions change, having a relationship already in place with school staff can help facilitate better communication.
In addition, it is important to talk with your child’s teacher to make sure that they are aware of your child’s asthma and how it is managed. Remember to use opportunities that come up during the school year, such as parent/teacher meetings or conferences, to touch base about your child’s health and to share any changes in their condition or medications.
Back to School with Asthma Checklist
The American Lung Association has a “Back to School with Asthma Checklist” to help parents get ready for the school year:
- Develop an Asthma Action Plan with your child's doctor. (See the Vermont Asthma Action Plan.)
- Mark all medications with your child's name, the name of the medication, and complete instructions on how it should be used.
- Learn your school's asthma policies and asthma emergency procedures.
- Talk to your school nurse and your school teacher about your child's asthma and be sure your child has a recent Asthma Action Plan on file at the school.
- Provide school with emergency contact information for you and at least two back-up individuals.
- Learn if your child can carry medications while at school, and if so, fill out all permission forms for this privilege.
For more information about how to make sure your child stays safe and healthy during the day, visit the American Lung Association’s resource area "For Parents of Children With Asthma."
Does your child need a Primary Care Doctor? Learn more about Children’s Health services available in central Vermont.