Questions School Leaders Frequently Ask About Asthma

In the spring of 2003, AASA published an issue of School Governance & Leadership that addressed asthma management. It was sent to every school superintendent and many school board president in the United States. The intent of this publication was to share information about relevant issues such as asthma management policies, indoor air quality, and liability. The publication included an evaluation form for the reader to rate the usefulness of the document and to let AASA know what additional information would be helpful to readers as school district leaders. This Frequently Asked Questions page is the result of readers' comments and requests for information. The links and resources shared here will be updated as new information becomes available.

Question 1: How can I obtain additional copies of the Asthma Wellness issue of School Governance & Leadership?

Answer: Download the document now (PDF). For hard copies, contact Kelly Beckwith at 703-875-0760 or kbeckwith@aasa.org.

Question 2: Where can I get a copy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategies for Addressing Asthma Within a Coordinated School Health Program?

Answer: Get copies from the CDC website. To request print copies, call 1-888-231-6405.

Question 3: Where can I find basic information on asthma?

Answer: Asthma is a chronic lung condition that may cause repeated acute episodes characterized by breathing problems such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath and lack of energy. Click on the links below to find additional basic information on asthma and schools:
http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/asthma/
http://www.aanma.org/schoolhouse/sh_anatomylesson.htm
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Asthma/Asthma_WhatIs.html

Question 4: Where can I find sample asthma action plans?

Answer: Every student with asthma needs to have an “asthma action plan” on file with their school nurse—this is the key to asthma planning at school. View sample asthma action plans by visiting the following links:
http://www.noattacks.org/AsthmaActionCardStudent.pdf
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/asthma_actplan.htm
http://www.aap.org/schooledinasthma/tools.htm#action

Question 5: Where can I find more information on school policy and asthma?

Answer: Written policies promote effective management of asthma. Such policies may address a smoke-free environment, medication administration, school wide emergency plans, staff training and educational programs for students. Policies may be asthma-specific, or focus on chronic diseases or the school environment. Visit the following links for more information on policy options:
http://www.nasbe.org/HealthySchools/fithealthy.html
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/friendhi.htm
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/resolut.htm
http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1330/MR1330.pdf
http://www.aanma.org/schoolhouse/sh_knowchildrights.htm

Question 6: Where can I find information on best practices for managing asthma in schools?

Answer: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed Strategies for Addressing Asthma Within a Coordinated School Health Program and the related Resources for Addressing Asthma in Schools (PDF). The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program publishes Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools. Click on the links below to find additional information on best practices for children with asthma:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/lung/initiatives/pediatricasthmaguidelines/default.stm

Question 7: What programs are available to teach students and families about asthma?

Answer: There are many programs that serve as educational tools for children with asthma and families. Click on the links below to find detailed information about these programs:
American Lung Association's Open Airways for Schools
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's Wee Wheezers
Starlight Starbright Foundation's Quest for the Code (CD-ROM game)

Question 8: Where can I find out if my state allows students to carry inhalers?

Answer: Laws within communities and states are often in flux regarding children's rights to carry medication for asthma. For the most up-to-date and easy-to-read information, visit http://www.aanma.org/cityhall/ch_childrights.htm. To read the laws themselves, visit http://www.nasbe.org/HealthySchools/States/State_Policy.asp.

Question 9: Where can we find information on asthma and athletes?

Answer: Athletes that have been diagnosed with asthma should be encouraged to fully participate in physical activities and to have easy access to pre-exercise medicine when indicated. Activities should be modified if it is indicated in the asthma action plan. Click on the links below to find additional information on asthma and athletes:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/phy_asth.htm
http://www.jewishhospital.com/carecenters/sm_asthma.html

Question 10: Where can I get a copy of a sample letter from a school to a physician that encourages cooperation on asthma management in school?

Answer: A sample “Dear Doctor” letter has been developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be obtained here or in the Spring 2003 edition of School Governnance & Leadership (PDF).

Question 11: Where can I find information about funding for asthma programs?

Answer: The following websites will provide information about funding for asthma:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/funding/index.htm
http://www.ahrq.gov
http://www.asthma.umich.edu/
http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=934453

Question 12: Where can I get more information about indoor air quality issues?

Answer: AASA has developed resources and information for school leaders regarding indoor air quality issues. Contact Amy Hereford at ahereford@aasa.org for additional information. The EPA's Tools for Schools Kit is designed to help school leaders identify, resolve and prevent indoor air quality issues that effect children and staff health and performance. Visit an additional, excellent resource list from the National Clearinghouse for Edcuational Facilities at http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/iaq.cfm.

Question 13: Where can I find information about funding for Indoor Air Quality?

Answer: There are few opportunities for funding of Indoor Air Quality; however, some states are given funding to implement indoor air quality programs. Click on the link to get information on funding: http://www.epa.gov/air/grants_funding.html.

Question 14: Where can I find information about liability and litigation of asthma and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues?

Answer: Liability and litigation for asthma and IAQ are becoming important issues to address for many school districts. In fact, some schools have been closed for days, weeks and, in some cases, permanently due to poor IAQ that negatively effect students, faculty and staff.

For additional information, click on the links below:
http://reason.com/0204/fe.cs.asthma.shtml
http://www.elistore.org/reports_detail.asp?ID=11094