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Alameda County School Districts Leaders in Addressing Asthma in Schools. Supported by. Sheila Jordan Superintendent, Alameda County Office of Education Arnold Perkins Director, Alameda County Public Health Department Poki Stewart Namkung, MD Public Health Director, Berkeley.

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Alameda County

School Districts

Leaders in Addressing Asthma in Schools


Supported by
Supported by

  • Sheila Jordan

    Superintendent, Alameda County Office of Education

  • Arnold Perkins

    Director, Alameda County Public Health Department

  • Poki Stewart Namkung, MD

    Public Health Director, Berkeley


What is asthma
What is Asthma?

  • Asthma is a chronic, obstructive respiratory disease.

  • It cannot be cured, but it can be managed.

  • If not treated, asthma can be fatal.


What are the symptoms of asthma
What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

  • Shortness of breath

  • Wheezing

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Coughing


What makes asthma worse
What Makes Asthma Worse?

  • Allergens

    • Warm-blooded pets (including dogs, cats, birds, and small rodents)

    • Dust mites

    • Cockroaches

    • Pollens from grass and trees

    • Molds (indoors and outdoors)


What makes asthma worse cont
What Makes Asthma Worse? (cont.)

  • Irritants

    • Cigarette smoke and wood smoke

    • Scented products such as hair spray and cleaning products

    • Strong odors from fresh paint or cooking

    • Automobile fumes and air pollution

    • Chemicals such as pesticides


What makes asthma worse cont1
What Makes Asthma Worse? (cont.)

  • Infections in the upper airways, such as colds (a common trigger for both children and adults)

  • Exercise (in some people)

  • Changes in weather and temperature


How is asthma controlled
How is asthma controlled?

Medical management

+

Environmental management


Asthma in schools
Asthma in Schools

  • Asthma is a growing problem among children

  • During the last couple of decades, asthma rates among school-aged children in the U.S. have nearly doubled


Asthma in schools1
Asthma in Schools

  • Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness

  • Asthma accounts for 14 million school days lost annually


In most classrooms of 30 children,

3 or more children are likely to have asthma


In classrooms of 30 children in many schools in Alameda County,

6 or more children are likely to have asthma


Asthma is a troubling example of what public health professionals call health disparities
Asthma is a troubling example of what public health professionals call “health disparities

Asthma hospitalization rates are four times higher for African American children than white children


Impact on the learning environment and test scores
Impact on the learning environment professionals call “health disparities (and test scores)

  • You can’t teach kids who are absent

  • It’s harder to teach kids who are not feeling well or are distracted by classmates coughing

  • It is difficult to teach kids who are sleep deprived

  • It is difficult to teach kids who are experiencing side effects from asthma medication


Impact of having staff and teachers with asthma
Impact of having staff and teachers professionals call “health disparitieswith asthma

  • When teachers are out sick, substitutes may not be able to stay on track

  • Substitutes are costly

  • Worker’s compensation is costly


Impact on teachers and staff
Impact on Teachers and Staff professionals call “health disparities

Even the most caring staff and teachers find it difficult to deal with students with asthma if they have little knowledge and no management systems in place…

…. especially with a shortage of school nurses.


So what can schools do
So, what can schools do? professionals call “health disparities

There are many simple, low-cost approaches that make a difference


You are not alone
You are not alone! professionals call “health disparities

Schools have allies among public health agencies and non-profit organizations committed to working with you


To comprehensively address asthma in schools there are four main types of activities
To comprehensively address asthma professionals call “health disparitiesin schools, there are four main types of activities

  • Educate students and staff

  • Establish management and support systems for students with asthma

  • Improve indoor air quality

  • Improve outdoor air quality


Educate students and staff
Educate students and staff professionals call “health disparities

  • Ensure that students with asthma receive education on asthma basics, asthma management, and emergency response. Encourage parents to participate.

  • Provide school staff with education on asthma basics, including environmental factors that can trigger asthma attacks, asthma management, and emergency response as part of their professional development activities.


Resources available to you
Resources available to you professionals call “health disparities

We can provide:

  • Educational materials and some guidance to schools.

  • Slides for presentations to school staff.

  • A toolkit of materials and tips for school nurses.

  • First Aid for Asthma posters in English and Spanish.

  • Model programs from other schools.


Establish management and support systems for students with asthma
Establish management and support systems for students with asthma

  • Designate a person to coordinate asthma activities in each district.

  • Ensure that all students have immediate access to medications at all time.

  • Ensure that each school has staff who know about asthma medications and proper procedures.


Establish management and support systems for students with asthma (continued)

  • Communicate with parents and guardians to identify students with asthma and improve coordination of support services.

  • Ensure that students with more severe asthma have a written Asthma Action Plan on file.


Resources available to you1
Resources available to you asthma (continued)

We can provide:

  • Models of policies and procedures used in other districts.

  • Asthma Action Plans free of charge.


Improve indoor air quality why
Improve indoor air quality asthma (continued)WHY?

  • Even with the best clinical management, children with asthma will continue to be sick if they face triggers at school

  • Asthma-friendly classrooms create better environments for both teaching and learning

  • Improving indoor air quality is a cost-effective approach for dealing with asthma– now more than ever!


Improve indoor air quality
Improve indoor air quality asthma (continued)

  • Designate a person at each district to work with the US EPA Region 9 to implement their ACSA- and CASBO-endorsed “Tools for Schools” program, a low- to no-cost program using simple changes to improve the school environment, reducing factors that may trigger asthma attacks.


Epa s iaq tools for schools
EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools asthma (continued)

  • Step-by-step guidance to ensure a healthy, productive school environment

  • Easy, low- or no-cost

  • Combines things the district can do and things done in schools

  • Thousands of school nationally are using it with success


Resources available to you2
Resources available to you asthma (continued)

  • Training

  • Technical and Program Assistance

  • Wide range of existing outreach documents and training modules


Address outdoor air quality
Address Outdoor Air Quality asthma (continued)

Just a few examples of activities include:

  • Have indoor activities on “Spare the Air Days”

  • Work to reduce school bus idling near classroom windows

  • Work with environmental health organizations to address local concerns


Resources available to you3
Resources available to you asthma (continued)

  • We can provide models of other programs and connections with other schools who are addressing outdoor air pollution.

  • We can connect you with environmental groups in your areas.


Discussion
Discussion asthma (continued)

  • Questions or comments?

  • Who is interested in pursuing a discussion with us on how you can get started?


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