The beginning of the school year is exciting for most parents. But if you are a parent raising a child with asthma or allergies, you may approach the school year with some fear and anxiety. These are normal feelings when planning for back to school with allergies and asthma. And over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic has made those concerns even greater.
To hep you prepare for a safe and healthy school year, Allergy & Asthma Network has developed a number of school planning resources on our website.
Check out Allergies and Asthma at School. Here you will find:
- Guidance for parents and guidance for school staff. Each discuss how to prepare for the start of the school year begins, how to manage allergies and asthma during the school year, and what to do at the end of the year.
- Network Notes for Parents, three quick videos on asthma, allergies and COVID-19.
- A “When do I keep my child home from school” chart to help parents and school staff.
School planning for parents of children with asthma
Managing Asthma in School: A Guide for Parents is a great resource for parents of children with asthma. Partnering with your child’s school is essential as you prepare for when school starts. Communicating your child’s asthma needs to the school nurse, school staff, and your child’s teacher are part of the preparation.
We review other ways to successfully prepare for the school year, including a Back to School Checklist for Families. This resource includes information on managing asthma throughout the school year. We go over what to do about any changes to your child’s asthma and planning for the end of the year. We discuss the school’s role in creating a health environment to prevent asthma triggers. Parents may also find sections on sports particularly helpful.
Asthma at school for school staff
Managing Asthma in School: A Guide for Schools was developed for school staff working with children with asthma. This includes school nurses, teachers and support staff. We review the importance of developing an asthma policy. We advocate for partnering with parents to help manage symptoms while in school. We offer a printable guide for symptoms that can be posted around the school and in the nurse’s office. We also go over asthma management throughout the school year. And we discuss training that may be helpful for school staff.
Allergies at school for parents
Allergies at school for parents was developed to address the concerns of parents of schoolchildren with an allergy or allergies. Environmental allergies such as pollen or mold, allergies to furry animals, food allergies, insect venom allergy and latex allergy are some of the common allergens that students may experience at school. This guide will help parents ensure their child’s allergies are appropriately managed while they are in school. Complete when page done.
Allergies at school for school staff
Allergies at school for school staff was created to guide school support staff working with children with allergies.
School planning for food allergies
Planning for School with Food Allergies is a great resource for families of children with a food allergy. Sending your food-allergic child to school can be scary. We discuss how parents and schools can prepare for kids with food allergy to safely attend school. We also review any special precautions that should be taken. We include the importance of making sure students have access to epinephrine in the event of a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis.
School planning for COVID-19
COVID-19 School Resources for Managing Asthma and Allergies is your guide for school and COVID-19. COVID-19 has brought a whole new set of concerns for people living with asthma and allergies. We answer frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and schools.
Resources for schools and parents
The School Health Resources page is your one-stop shop for all the resources Allergy and Asthma Network has available for schools. We have many printable PDFs about important considerations involving asthma and allergies. These resources includes symptom lists, back to school checklists, treatment posters, and much more. We also offer educational videos on inhaler use.
Questions and Answers: Back to School
Back to school season raises many questions for parents of children with asthma and allergies. We developed a Q&A section to address common questions.
Q: What is the September Asthma Peak?
A: The September Asthma Peak is a time of the year when asthma symptoms peak among school-age children. Data shows that asthma attacks and hospitalizations peak in September. It is usually in the third week of September. Not coincidentally, this corresponds with the back to school season. In September, schoolchildren are exposed to more respiratory viruses. Ragweed pollen is in full bloom. Kids are back in classrooms breathing in molds and other indoor allergens. All of these factors play a role in worsening symptoms during September.
September asthma peak articles & recordings:
Q: What is the difference between COVID-19 vs. allergies?
COVID-19 and allergy symptoms can overlap. But there are some noticeable differences. Do you have a fever to go along with other symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath? Fever is not an allergy symptom. So if you have a fever, you should consider getting tested for COVID-19. Do you normally have allergy symptoms at this time of year? If your symptoms are typical of what you experience every allergy season and you don’t have a fever, then it’s likely you’re experiencing allergy symptoms.
COVID-19 symptoms that are not consistent with allergies include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and a loss of taste or smell. Allergy symptoms not associated with COVID-19 include itchy and watery eyes or nose. If you are unsure or your symptoms overlap with both, then it would be worth getting tested for COVID-19 just to be sure. Learn more about how to tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergies.
Q: What are the COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for children?
A: COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older in the United States for the prevention of COVID-19, according to the CDC. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are available for children. If your child has already received the vaccine, check with your doctor to see if booster shots are available.
Q: Does my child need to wear a mask at school this year?
A: Schools no longer require masks to attend in person. CDC recommends universal Indoor masking when a community hospital is experiencing high COVID-19 admission rates. For moderate rates, masking is advised for those immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness. People who have a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 should wear a mask around others for 10 days from their last exposure. CDC also states that anyone who chooses to wear a mask should be supported, even if the community rates are low.
Q: When should child with allergies be kept home from school?
If your child has an allergy, they should be kept home if experiencing:
- Fever of 100.4° or higher
- Feels too sick to participate in school activities
- Moderate to severe cough
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach throat
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Neck pain
- Bloodshot eyes
- Feels extra tired
- Needs fever or pain medication to feel good
Q: When should a child with asthma be kept home from school?
Your child with asthma should be kept home from school if experiencing any of the above symptoms and/or:
- Sleepless night due to asthma symptoms
- Significant wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath
- Experiencing a flare that is not well controlled with quick-relief medication
Q: When should a child with COVID-19 be kept home from school?
A: Per the CDC, a child diagnosed with COVID-19 should stay home and isolate for 5 days from the first positive test or the start of symptoms. They may return to school after 5 days if they are fever-free for 24 hours (without fever medication). They should wear a mask for 5 days after returning (or 10 days from the start of isolation).
Q: What if I can’t afford asthma medications for school?
A: If you cannot afford your asthma medication, let your healthcare provider know. They may be able to prescribe cheaper alternatives. Additionally, you can shop around (GoodRx lets you compare prices between various pharmacies). You can also contact the manufacturer for discounts and assistance programs. Visit here for additional options and links to some assistance programs.
Q: What if I can’t afford allergy medications for school?
A: If you cannot afford your allergy medication, let your healthcare provider know. They may be able to suggest a less expensive alternative. You can also look for generic or store brands rather than buying the name brand. Shop around between stores to compare costs or buy in bulk at a place like Costco or Sam’s Club. You can use coupons or store cards to reduce costs or earn store credits.
Q: What if I can’t afford epinephrine auto-injectors for school?
A: Epinephrine is the only treatment for anaphylaxis. If you cannot afford your epinephrine, let your healthcare provider know. There may be a cheaper alternative. You can compare costs between different epinephrine options. Contact the manufacturer for coupons and shop around to see if other pharmacies are cheaper.
We hope these resources provide guidance for families and schools as planning for the new school years begins in earnest. Feel free to contact us with questions.