Can Students Self-Carry Their Asthma Inhaler in Schools?
Sending your child to school when they have asthma can be scary. Can your child access their medication quickly, or is it locked in a cabinet in the nurse’s office? Does the school have a fulltime nurse, or will a teacher help a student during an asthma episode? So many questions.
All 50 states have laws that allow children to self-carry and administer their asthma medication as needed. Laws differ per state. The Allergy & Asthma Network of America has a listing of each state law here. Seven states have laws allowing schools to stock rescue medication (albuterol) for students with asthma.
For 10+ years I have been working with schools to help them become more asthma-friendly. I collaborate with superintendents and school boards, school nurses, teachers, coaches, janitorial staff and parents. It really does “take a village.” Together, we identify and address triggers such as mold, provide asthma education to staff and students, and develop no bus idling policies.
This collaboration is key. Many key school staff are either not aware of the self-carry law or do not have the resources to implement it. Some schools have created their own school-specific policies.
So how do you ensure your child has access to their medication during the school day?
- Determine if your child is ready to self-carry and administer by completing the free, online Student Readiness Tool from the American Lung Association. This tool will the parents and school nurse gage the student’s understanding of asthma and triggers, recognizing and treating symptoms, and how to administer medication.
- Learn more about your state’s self-carry and administer law and what it means for your child with this easy-to-follow, online tool, also from the American Lung Association.
- Meet with the school nurse. Ask if they are familiar with and following the state law. If not, work with the nurse or School Health Advisory Council to raise awareness of the law and to develop strategies to make sure it’s followed.
- Ask the nurse what the “school’s policy” (often different than the state law) is to self-carry and administer. Some schools require a district-approved asthma action plan signed by the healthcare provider. Other require a letter from your healthcare provider stating your child can self-carry and administer.
Children with asthma need adults to advocate for asthma-friendly schools. Schools should always be a place where students can breathe easy, so they are ready and able to learn.
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