Every year there is a sharp rise in the number of asthma attacks for kids when they return to school after the summer holidays. This results in a significant increase in Emergency Department visits, hospitalisation and days off school which can be unsettling for kids as they start a new school year.
You can help families prepare for school and reduce the wide-reaching impacts of an asthma flare-up.
ARE YOU AND YOUR SCHOOL ‘ASTHMA-READY’?
Here’s how you can be prepared and adequately manage asthma in your school, this new school year.
1. LEARN ABOUT ASTHMA AND KIDS
It’s important that Education staff understand the asthma symptoms in kids . For more information watch the video below and visit our asthma in kids page. You can also complete our free Asthma First Aid training for schools here.
2. ENCOURAGE PARENTS AND CARERS TO VISIT THEIR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS (IF THEY HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO). SOME TIPS FOR PARENTS INCLUDE:
- Update their child’s written Asthma Action Plan with the child’s regular doctor for everyday use and for use at school.
- Purchase additional reliever medicine, spacer and mask (as needed) for use at school, clearly labelled with their child’s details.
- Have an inhaler technique face to face check with their health practitioner to ensure their child is getting the correct dose of medicine into the lungs.
- Download the Kiss myAsthma app and Asthma First Aid app.
3. TALK WITH PARENTS AND CARERS
- When meeting with parents and carers at the start of the new school year, discuss their child’s asthma, including their symptoms, triggers and severity.
- Ensure the child’s written Asthma Action Plan is current, If not, encourage them to visit their doctor for an Asthma Review of their child and update of their Plan.
- School staff can use the Asthma Action Plan as a tool to talk about the child’s asthma medicine, how to use this and the extent to which the child can self-manage and administer their own medicines.
- Ask if the child has had any severe flare-ups recently and how it was managed?
- Ask if the child gets short of breath when exercising or participating in sports. Have medicines before exercise been prescribed and added to the written Asthma Action Plan for the school to administer? If not, encourage the parent to book an Asthma Review appointment for their child with their doctor to help manage this trigger.
- Inform them of your school’s asthma policy and establish two-way communication channels around the student’s asthma, including reporting of any flare-ups and use of asthma medicine at school.
4. ENSURE YOUR SCHOOL IS READY TO MANAGE ASTHMA IN KIDS
- Train all staff in Asthma First Aid. We offer free online asthma first aid training for Education staff. Check out our Training for Schools section.
- Complete the Asthma Schools Health Check online tool to gauge your asthma management readiness.
- Check your asthma management policies – update them as needed – sample templates are available to assist.
- Read the Asthma Guidelines for Australian Schools.
- Order an Asthma Emergency Kit for your school – check that you have enough kits to service your school for on and off-site activities.
- Download our suite of asthma resources and templates for schools.
- Understand the difference between hay fever and COVID symptoms.
5. UPDATE SCHOOL WEATHER POLICIES TO INCLUDE AIR QUALITY
Back to school is an ordinarily high-risk time for kids with asthma, however during periods of smoky conditions due to bushfires they are especially susceptible to an asthma flare-up.
Asthma Australia encourages all schools to take steps now to ensure their extreme weather policies include air quality. This might involve:
- training all staff in Asthma First Aid
- obtaining a written Asthma Action Plan for kids with asthma
- updating school weather policies to include air quality
- identifying a clean air shelter at the school
- checking air quality regularly
- adjusting plans like outdoor sports when air quality is poor or worse and in the event of a thunderstorm asthma or extreme weather warning.
Please note, while face masks have been recommended for use by people at high risk during the smoky conditions, they are not recommended for kids under 12 as they are not considered safe or effective. Facemasks must be form fitting and generally a child’s face is too small to create a tight seal. Read more about air quality and asthma here.
For more information on asthma in kids call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462)to speak with an Asthma Educator.
Flo is a campaign partner of Asthma Australia and has not been involved in the development of this web page/content.