Schools and Asthma

For every classroom in Michigan with 30 children in it, two may have asthma. This chronic disease causes unnecessary restriction of childhood activities, and is a leading cause of school absenteeism. Asthma can be controlled, though, and with proper treatment and support, children with asthma can lead fully active lives.

The Facts

Among Children 0–17 Years Old in the United States in 2015

  • 8.4% (6.2 million) were reported to currently have asthma.
  • Among those with asthma, 47.5% (2.9 million) had an asthma attack in the last 12 months.

Michigan Children (Ages 0-17 years)

  • 1 in 5 Michigan students with asthma miss more than 6 days of school each year due to asthma
  • Only 41% of Michigan students with asthma have an Asthma Action Plan on file at school
  • 81% of asthma hospitalizations for Michigan students happen during the school year
  • 27% of Michigan students with asthma aged 10-17 say they are not allowed to carry their medication with them at school, despite Michigan’s inhaler law

Michigan Youth (Grade 9-12)

  • 12.1% of students reported currently having asthma.
  • Students who were overweight were more likely to report having asthma than underweight or normal weight students.
  • 13.0% of females and 11.2% of males reported currently having asthma.
  • The United States prevalence for youth who have ever been told they have asthma was 22.8%. Michigan’s prevalence was 25.3%, tenth highest in the country.
Youth Risk Behavior Survey – 2017
This surveillance brief summarizes asthma-related data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. It includes national and state level lifetime asthma rates as well as data on certain health behaviors such as obesity, drug and alcohol use among those with current asthma.

Schools can do their part to control asthma by becoming more "asthma-friendly," i.e., adopting policies and procedures, and coordinating student services to better serve students with asthma.

Asthma in Schools – Tools & Resources

  • NEW! Is Your School Asthma Friendly? A Michigan Infographic
    Share Michigan asthma and school facts and resources with school staff and administrators using this infographic.

  • School-based Asthma Management Program (SAMPRO™) and Toolkit
    The goal of SAMPRO™ is to improve health and school-related outcomes for children with asthma, using school-based partnerships that focus on integrated care coordination amongst families, clinicians and school nurses. SAMPRO™ advocates four components to integrate schools, and specifically school nurses, within the asthma care team:
    • The creation of a Circle of Support amongst the families, clinicians and schools nurses centered around the child with asthma
    • The creation and transmission of Asthma Management Plans to schools
    • A comprehensive Asthma Education Plan for school personnel
    • A comprehensive Environmental Asthma Plan to assess and remediate asthma triggers at home and in school.
  • If there is not a nurse at your school, these tasks should be assigned to an appropriate staff member. This staff member should receive training in asthma basics, management and emergencies. For information on how to get asthma training, learn more from the NHLBI about what can be done.

  • AIM School Packet Project
    Health information kits titled "Never Judge a Book by Its Cover, and Other Important Lessons About Asthma" were developed to disseminate accurate asthma information to Michigan schools. The packets are tailored to specific school staff. Click on the links below to find out how very serious asthma can be to a student.

  • Healthy School Assessment Tool (HSAT)
    The HSAT is an online assessment to help your school determine ways to create a healthier school environment. If you represent a Michigan school and want to determine what you can do to improve your school's health, visit the HSAT website and find out how to complete the assessment.

  • Asthma Friendly Schools Initiative (American Lung Association)
    The Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative Toolkit is a planning tool based on real-life activities that have been used in schools throughout the United States to create comprehensive asthma management systems.

  • NHLBI Managing Asthma: A guide for schools
    With this guide, you can put a simple-to-follow asthma-friendly program in place in your school. You will be able to brief teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, school nurses, and even the principal on their special role in making your school asthma-friendly.

  • Tools for Schools
    The Tools for Schools Action Kit provides best practices, industry guidelines, sample policies and a sample IAQ management plan to improve school air at little or no cost.

  • Clean School Bus USA
    Clean School Bus USA brings together partners from business, education, transportation, and public-health organizations to work toward encouraging policies and practices to: 1) eliminate unnecessary public school bus idling, 2) upgrading ("retrofitting") buses that will remain in the fleet with better emission-control technologies and/or fueling them with cleaner fuels, and 3) replacing the oldest buses in the fleet with new, less-polluting buses.
Daycare & Preschool Info

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) School Policies/Law
  • Michigan School Inhaler Law
    Legislation allowing Michigan public and nonpublic school children, under certain conditions, to carry and self administer prescribed asthma and allergy medications on school grounds and during school sponsored activities was amended to the Michigan School Code in 2000 and 2004.This ensures that students with asthma and allergies have immediate access to life-saving medications.

image of asthma poster
image of asthma poster
image of asthma poster

The posters above are available for download. Click on the image to view and save a PDF copy.

See all 13 of CDC's messages using the arrows at the bottom of the picture.
  • School "Epi-pen" Law
    Each Michigan public and nonpublic school must have two auto-injectable epinephrine (AIE) devices, commonly known as "epi-pens," on hand. This legislation amended the Michigan School Code and Public Health Code to make sure students and staff members with severe allergic reactions have quick access to life-saving medications. This law:
    • requires each school board to make and use policies around this law, based on updated medication administration guidelines from the Department of Education and others
    • requires each school board to try to get funds for the AIEs from an outside source before applying to the Department of Education for unfunded costs
    • allows a doctor to prescribe AIEs to a school board, and a pharmacist to fill that prescription
    • requires each school to have at least 2 employees trained to use AIEs safely and appropriately in allergy emergencies
    • addresses liability concerns for the school and those who prescribe or administer this medication in good-faith
    • FAQs about this law
  • Model Policy on the Management of Asthma in Schools
    The State Board of Education is convinced that the benefits of a clear school policy for asthma management can make a difference in school performance. This policy builds on existing asthma best practices including Michigan’s asthma inhaler law, the State Board of Education Policy on Coordinated School Health Programs to Support Academic Achievement and Healthy Schools, national strategies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program.

  • Tobacco Free Schools
    In keeping with its mandate to protect Michigan students and foster effective learning environments, the Michigan State Board of Education strongly recommends that schools institute local tobacco-free schools policies that prohibit all tobacco use in all school-related situations, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and 365 days per year.

School/Staff/Parent Resources

Partnership Links