Allergies and Asthma at School

Resources for Parents and Schools

What must schools and parents do to prepare students with allergies and asthma for school?

Parents and schools need to partner to care for students with asthma and life-threatening allergies, as well as other related conditions.

Parents also need to help their child be ready to go to school, communicate their child’s needs to school staff and provide the school with medication and paperwork that they need.

Schools and school nurses need to develop policies and plans so they are prepared to deal with asthma and life-threatening allergies at school.

Allergy & Asthma Network has resources to help keep children safe at school.

Asthma at School

Asthma at School for Parents ➡

Asthma at School for School Staff ➡

Allergies at School

Allergies at School for Parents ➡

Allergies at School for
School Staff ➡

COVID-19 Recommendations for Back to School ➡

What do parents need to do to prepare for their children with allergies to attend school?

It’s best to plan ahead and make an appointment with your child’s doctor or allergist. It’s a good time to talk about your child’s general health and whether they have any special needs. It’s also a good time to update:

  • Medication permission forms
  • Prescriptions for medication to leave at school
  • School forms/care plans – Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan
  • Physical form when needed

It’s also a good idea to make an appointment with the school and/or school nurse before the first day of school (if needed). You can discuss any accommodations needed for your child. If your child has food allergies, you can discuss cafeteria policies and concerns.

On the first day of school, share with the school or school nurse any updates regarding your child’s health and if there were any allergy issues from the summer months. It’s a good idea to give the school written permission to discuss your child’s health with your family pediatrician or medical specialist.

This is also a good time to provide your child’s school or school nurse with up-to-date forms and medications:

  • Epinephrine auto-injector or quick-relief albuterol inhaler (if prescribed) and any other prescribed medication
  • Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan from doctor or specialist  
    • Medication permission forms

Download Back to School Checklist for Allergies ➡

How can parents handle a change in their child’s condition during the school year?

Notify the school of any significant allergic reactions or changes to your child’s care.

Note the expiration dates of medications that you keep at school or your child carries to school and replace any expired medication as soon as possible. A good strategy is to put a notice on your calendar for 2-3 weeks before medication expires so you have time to get new medication from the pharmacy and deliver it to school.

What should parents do at the end of the school year?

It’s a good idea to continue communication with the school or school nurse as each school year comes to a close. You should consider:

  • Taking time to talk about your student’s school year and how to prepare for continued success at school.
  • Setting aside time to pick up any medication brought to school.
  • Asking the school for any healthcare or medication forms needed for the next school year.

Check in with the school as needed with any concerns about allergies that come up during the school year.

School Health Resources ➡

How do I know when to keep my child home from school?

With allergies, it can be really hard to decide when to send your student to school – and when it’s a good idea to stay home. Especially as school reopens after the COVID-19 outbreak, it can be a tough decision.

Anxiety can often appear as an illness in children, if you think your child is not feeling well due to anxiety, call the school to get help for your child to feel less anxious.

For All Students

wdt_ID When to Go to School When to Stay Home
1 No fever for 24 hours Fever of 100.4° or higher
3 Has energy to participate in school activities Feels too sick to participate in school activities
5 Occasional cough Moderate to severe cough
6 Feels good Shortness of breath
7 No vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours Stomach pain
8 Sore throat
9 Vomiting
10 Diarrhea
11 Neck pain
12 Rash
13 Bloodshot eyes
14 Feels extra tired
15 Needs fever or pain medication to feel good
Infographic of when to keep your child with asthma or allergies home from school

Click infographic above for PDF download

Food Allergies and School

Anaphylaxis Care Plan

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Guide for Families icon
Allergy & Anaphylaxis: A Practical Guide for Schools & Families

How can schools best prepare for students with  allergies?

Schools should be sure to have sound policies and protocols in place for managing allergies in the school setting.

Policies should address how to care for students who have an identified health concern as well as those students who experience their first symptoms at school. The policies should include (but aren’t limited to):

  • The students covered by the policy
  • School programs and environments covered
  • Medication administration, documentation and storage, including individuals who are authorized to administer the medication
  • A planned response in case of an emergency
  • Education, training and notification
  • A school district communication plan

Protocols should describe the appropriate procedures or guidance to follow for the care of students with allergies. It’s especially important to have protocols in place that outline emergency care, medication administration and the use of stock albuterol and epinephrine.

How can school health professionals best prepare for students with allergies to attend school?

When planning for students to return to school, it’s important to keep key points in mind.  It is vital to know who your students are with allergies as soon as possible in order to meet their individual health needs.

Before School Begins:

  • Identify students who are at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction
  • Set up a medication system for maintenance and emergency medications
  • Meet with parents to build a trusting relationship and obtain:
    • Medication orders
    • Medication
    • Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan
  • Communicate with faculty and school staff to alert them to student health needs
  • Review symptoms of allergies with all staff, post signs of symptoms in classroom (over the phone works really well)
    • Signs & Symptoms Chart
  • Provide staff education as needed

Allergy & Asthma Network has posters for the School Health Office: Respiratory Treatments, Epinephrine Treatments, Respiratory Tools

When School Starts:

  • Touch base with students who are at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction to discuss management of their health condition at school
    • Assess their ability for self-care and self-medication
  • Obtain medications, medication orders and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan if not previously completed
  • Track expiration dates for medications
  • School Nurse to write Individualized Healthcare Plan as needed with family and student input

At the End of the School Year:

  • When parent picks up medication stored at school:
    • Return unused medication
    • Provide medication forms and plans to be completed for the next school year
    • Remind the parent to make an appointment with the doctor to be sure to get a health update and forms completed (doctors offices get VERY BUSY close to the start of school)
    • Discuss progress made in self-management and encourage continuation at home

School Staff should know the following about allergies:

➤ Signs and symptoms

➤ Common risk factors, triggers and/or allergens

➤ How to prevent allergy exposures

➤ Never send a child to the School Health Office alone

➤ What are the signs and symptoms of an emergency

➤ How to respond to an allergy emergency

➤ Needed medication

➤ How to administer medication

➤ How to access emergency medical services as needed (911)

Download Back to School Checklist for School Nurses ➡

School Health Resources ➡

School Nurse Chronic Health Assessment Tool – SN CHAT

A tool developed for school nurses by a school nurse, SN CHAT offers tools and resources to help school nurses manage chronic health conditions in the school setting.

School nurses can use SN CHAT®:

A Guide for School Staff

Signs & Symptoms of  Allergy & Asthma life threatening symptoms for schools

Print and display above phone in each classroom.

Allergy resources are available for schools and school health professional resources

Understanding Allergies Guide and Understanding Anaphylaxis Guide

CDC Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Centers