Goal 2: Allow students with asthma easy access to inhalers.
The medication issue is one of the most challenging goals to address with schools because it may raise serious questions regarding a sensitive issue: the accessibility and management of medications, in particular reliever inhalers.
School Boards are required to have a policy for managing the administration of medications. However many of these policies have been developed without asthma (inhaler) medications in mind. As a result, there may be inconsistencies among schools in the same Board as to how asthma inhalers are stored, accessed and administered. Individual school administrators may develop their own protocol for managing asthma which may or may not be consistent with the Board's policy on managing medications.
Here's what you can do:
- Review the School Board's policy on the administration of medications prior to your discussion with the principal/designate. Does the medication policy include management of inhaler medications, such as relievers?
- Review the school's protocol for managing inhaler medications.
- Explore the 5 W's: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN & WHY.
WHO is responsible for managing medications, (e.g., each student, older students only, Special Education teacher, secretary, vice principal?)
WHAT is the medication students need easy access to? (e.g., reliever inhaler).
WHERE are reliever inhalers stored? (e.g., fanny pack, backpack, desk in the classroom? Unlocked/locked in a teacher's desk, school office or an unlocked/locked drawer?)
WHEN can the student access their reliever inhaler? (e.g., whenever they feel they need it before exercise and/or when symptoms appear, only with permission of a teacher, only at breaks like recess or lunch, but never during class time).
WHY does the student need easy access to their reliever medication?
This is an opportunity to educate the principal regarding the importance and use of reliever inhalers in children with asthma. Inform the principal/designate that if asthma symptoms are not relieved quickly they can worsen and become life-threatening.
NOTE: Typically, most students age seven years or older are capable of deciding when medication is required and have the skills to administer the medication properly (see CAFS Resource Kit Goal 2).