Some days it can be hard to decide whether a child with asthma symptoms should go to school or not. Your goal is always zero missed school days due to asthma, but that can be difficult to achieve when your child’s treatment plan is still in development, you’re not sure what environmental factors are causing his asthma symptoms or he’s in a transition period.

You can send your child to school with these asthma symptoms

  • A stuffy nose but no wheezing (listen to his chest)
  • Peak flow meter readings at or near his target number* after medication
  • The ability to participate in expected daily school activities
  • No difficulty breathing

Keep your child home with these asthma symptoms

  • 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 his 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

Good communication among teachers, parents and students will enable a child to attend school on marginal days. Notify teachers that your child is in pre- or post-asthma flare stages but controlled with medications. If possible or if needed, go to the school to check on your child just before the next dose of medication is due.

When asthma is out of control

The key to keeping kids in school is keeping them healthy. Children with high absentee rates need medical help. Children who can’t participate in physical activities need medical help. Children who are frequently in crisis need medical help. These are signs that a child’s asthma or allergy management plan is not working. Parents and teachers should take the time to identify why the child is missing school and unable to participate fully in school activities.

Parents should consider

  • Is the child under the care of an asthma or allergy specialist?
  • Is the asthma or allergy management plan individualized and in writing?
  • Are home and school environments free of allergens and irritants?
  • Is the school environment a healthy place for the child to breathe?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” your child may miss more school than necessary. If you answered “yes” to all of these questions and your child is still having problems at school with asthma or allergies, further investigation by your child’s physician or perhaps a second medical opinion would be helpful.

Helping your child stay in school is an important part of helping him overcome, not just cope with, asthma and allergies.