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school hallway with boards over the nurse door

The Importance of Asthma Awareness for School Staff

Parenting is always an adventure. My children are all adults, and it’s still an “interesting” time of life. Your kids still need you – no matter how old they are. Parenting doesn’t stop when they turn 18!

Limited funding means limited resources

I remember when my oldest son started kindergarten. I was surprised to find out that our neighborhood public school didn’t get a lot of funding. We didn’t have an art teacher, science teacher, or PE coach. There were no music programs, dance clubs, or organized sports.

And – most shocking of all – we didn’t have a school nurse available. Well, let me rephrase that. She was available by pager (yes, that’s all we had back then…) and eventually the school nurse was available by cell phone. But she was only in school a few hours a week. I found out that our school nurse covers eight schools. Yep, eight. We are one of the worst states in the nation for nurse/student ratio (the average is about 4,900 students per school nurse).

I thought that was ridiculous! But since my oldest son was pretty healthy, I didn’t think we would need any help from the school nurse.

What about asthma emergencies?

But – Middle Son was not. The first of his seven hospitalizations for asthma was while he was in kindergarten. At that time, we didn’t know anything about asthma. I dove headfirst into the world of asthma, but didn’t feel comfortable sending him back to school after his hospital stay.

So, what do you do if you don’t have a school nurse there when your child needs it?

Well, worry nonstop! Then ask to meet with the school nurse. I told the school nurse about my son’s asthma and his hospitalization and asked for advice. She told me she tries to keep an eye on kids with asthma, diabetes, seizure disorders, etc.

Keeping school staff asthma aware

She told me to have our doctor fill out an Asthma Action Plan. The form has green, yellow and red zones. Each zone lists asthma signs and symptoms and what to do if you are in that zone. As the mom of a new diagnosed child, that was very helpful for me. I also met with my son’s teacher to review his Asthma Action Plan and check out the classroom to look for environmental triggers (dusty stuffed animals, mold, class pets, cleaning supplies, anything that might bother his asthma).

The school nurse also told me that when he was old enough, Middle Son could self carry and use his rescue inhaler. That was a relief to know his inhaler wouldn’t be locked up in her office while she was at another school.

Pitching in at school where needed

I went on every field trip (especially to the state fair or zoo, where I knew Middle Son would run into animal dander – which could cause an asthma attack for him). I volunteered in his class every week. I got to know the teacher, other parents, and front office staff. I started to build a network I could call on if Middle Son was in trouble and I couldn’t pick him up quickly.

I did the same thing in junior high and high school. I got to know the front office staff and the teachers at each school REALLY well. Over the years, all 3 of my kids were diagnosed with asthma (as was I), and asthma became a big part of our life.

Find your network that can help your child with their asthma. Teacher, school nurse, class aid, front office staff, recess guard, crossing guard, etc.

What have you found to help your child with asthma while they are in school?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Andrea – great article. I wonder how many communities are similar to yours with the position ‘school nurse’ in the district.
    This piqued my interest and hit home since, for the past 30 years, or so, my wife has been a school nurse (full-time) in our local city school district!
    It seems she was one of the most popular professionals within any of the schools she represented!
    Perhaps others will chime in here with their own personal experiences.
    Regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Andrea M Jensen, CHES (R), AE-C author
    4 months ago

    I would be curious to know!
    I love hearing your story about how important your wife is to all of those kiddos. What a gift she has!

    I honestly don’t know what I would have done without our nurse. It really eased my mind to know she was just a phone call away and could come quick if I needed help.

    But I tried to make things easier for her. I saw her today and she said I was one of the few parents who made sure my kids had Asthma Action Plans every year!

    Give your wife a big hug – she deserves one! 🙂

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Will do, Andrea, and thanks for your kind words!
    Clearly the school nurse you have understands how devoted you are to your children!!
    Warmly,
    Leon (site moderator)

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