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Actions for the School Principal

Involve your staff in the school asthma management program. A school asthma management program is a cooperative effort that involves the student, parents, teachers, school staff, and physicians. Many members of the school staff can play a role in maintaining your school's asthma management program, although the principal or the school nurse may be most instrumental in getting a program started. Take the steps listed below to help set up an asthma management program at your school.

Develop a clear policy on taking medication during school hours. Work with parents, teachers, the school nurse (if available), and others to provide the most supportive policy that your school system allows so that the student can get the medication he or she needs. Be knowledgeable about Michigan's law that allows students to carry their quick-relief inhalers with them at school, for use in preventing or treating asthma symptoms, if permission is given by the doctor and parent.

  • Designate one person on the school staff to be responsible for maintaining every student's Asthma Action Plan. If there is not a nurse at your school, assign this task to an appropriate staff member who has received additional asthma training. View helpful information about delegating school health services to unlicensed personnel.
  • Provide in-service opportunities for staff to learn about asthma and allergies. Assistance is available from the school nurse, a local hospital, or asthma coalition. Additional resources are available from: the American Lung Association, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, and the Allergy and Asthma Network
  • Asthma may be considered a disability for a student, depending on severity, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA. Many students with asthma, especially those with severe asthma, may need a 504 Plan/IEP to ensure that they receive the services they need to learn in the school environment. Use 504 Plans or IEPs, as appropriate, particularly for health services and physical activity modifications.

    Learn more about the reasonable accommodations law:
  • Establish a resource library for all school personnel and students to obtain additional information about asthma, including: pamphlets, brochures, and other publications. This library of information will provide staff and school personnel an opportunity to obtain additional information about asthma.
  • Schedule any extensive building repairs or cleaning during long vacations or summer months in order to avoid exposing students to fumes, dust, and other irritants.
  • Support and encourage communication with parents to improve school health services.
  • Reinforce twenty-four hour tobacco-free policies within all school buildings and at all school events held on school grounds.
  • Require staff to wear non-latex gloves when preparing foods or treating students medically.
  • Make sure that the ingredients in all foods served by the cafeteria are posted/published and/or have a complete ingredient list available for interested families.
Adapted from Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education. September 1991. NIH Publication No. 91-2650