Asthma At School: To Go or Not to Go



By Sally Schoessler, RN

Has this happened at your house? “Mom? Dad? I don’t feel good. I want to stay home from school.”

And your reaction is, “What, AGAIN?”

It’s hard to know when children should go to school and when they should stay home – and a chronic health condition like asthma can make that decision even harder. Your child’s personalized Asthma Action Plan will identify symptoms to watch for and treatments to follow, but here are more signs to watch for:

Send your child to school with…

• A stuffy nose but no wheezing

• Peak flow meter readings at or near the target number after medication

• Enough energy and strength to participate in expected daily school activities

• No difficulty breathing

Keep your child home with…

• Evidence of infection, sore throat or swollen, painful neck glands

• A fever above 100° F; face hot and flushed

• Peak flow meter readings that are not near the target number after medication

• Wheezing that continues to be labored 30 minutes after medication

• Weakness or tiredness that makes it hard to take part in usual daily activities

• Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath when speaking

Good communication among teachers, parents and students will enable a child to attend school on marginal days. Notify teachers if your child is in pre- or post-asthma flare stages but controlled with medications.

Call 911 if you think it’s an emergency

If your child is missing a lot of school due to asthma, talk to your school nurse and healthcare provider. If you don’t have a written, personalized Asthma Action Plan – or if it’s not working and your child is experiencing frequent flares – you may need to seek the help of a board-certified allergist or asthma specialist.

It may also help to look at the home or school environment for allergens or irritants that make it harder for your child to breathe.


Sally Schoessler, RN, is Director of Education at Allergy & Asthma Network.