Supporting Students with Asthma

Schools and districts can support students with asthma by implementing policies and procedures that encourage the implementation of Asthma Management Plans and by improving the indoor air quality of school buildings. For many children, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and regular school attendance.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 out of every 12 children in the U.S. has asthma. Asthma is a serious, life-long respiratory condition in which the airways narrow and swell making it difficult to breathe. It can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness and coughing. While the disease can be life threatening, individuals with asthma can live normal, healthy and active lives with proper management. The CDC’s National Asthma Control Program (NACP) states that the health issues associated with asthma make it one of the leading causes of absenteeism, causing more than 10 million missed school days each year. Schools and districts can help to improve absenteeism rates and the overall health of their students by implementing policies and procedures to improve indoor air quality and by helping their students with asthma manage their disease during the school day. The information provided below outlines supports for students with asthma. For more information on asthma basics, symptoms, triggers and myths and facts visit Ohio Department of Health’s Asthma Program.

Asthma Management Plan

Management of a child’s asthma while at school will be successful when done as a partnership between the child, their parents, school nurse, medical provider, teachers, principals and coaches. Having a personalized Asthma Management Plan in place for each student with asthma is essential to successful management of the child’s asthma during the school day. There are several sample asthma action plans provided below that can be used however, a student’s physician may provide one that is more specific to their healthcare facility or electronic medical record system.

Sample Asthma Management Plans

Importance of Inhalers

Quick-emergency relief inhalers, like albuterol, may be necessary at school to treat asthma attacks.  These quick-emergency relief inhalers contain a fast-acting medication that will open the airways making it easier for a child to breathe. Families of asthmatic students should provide an emergency relief inhaler to the school, however in some situations where an extra inhaler was not available schools do have the ability under Ohio law to purchase stock inhalers. Schools that choose to procure stock inhalers must develop a written inhaler policy.  The information below is provided as a guide for schools in the development of their policy.

Inhaler Policy  

Ohio law requires that if a district board, governing authority of a chartered or nonchartered nonpublic school or community school chooses to procure inhalers, the district's superintendent and/or school must adopt a policy governing maintenance and use of the drug. The policy is not required if the district board does not choose to procure inhalers. 

The policy must:

  1. Be developed in consultation with a licensed health professional authorized to prescribe drugs.
  2. Include a prescriber-issued protocol specifying definitive orders for inhalers, including the dosages of medication to be administered through them, the number of times that each inhaler may be used before disposal and the methods of disposal.

The policy also shall do all of the following:

  • Identify the one or more locations in each school operated by the district in which an inhaler must be stored.
  • Specify the conditions under which an inhaler must be stored, replaced and disposed.
  • Specify the individuals employed by or under contract with the district board, in addition to a school nurse or an athletic trainer, who may access and use an inhaler to provide a dosage of medication to an individual in an emergency situation.
  • Specify any training that employees or contractors other than a school nurse or athletic trainer, must complete before being authorized to access and use an inhaler.
  • Identify the emergency situations, including when an individual exhibits signs and symptoms of asthma, in which a school nurse, athletic trainer or other employees or contractors may access and use an inhaler.
  • Specify that assistance from an emergency medical service provider must be requested immediately after an employee or contractor, other than a school nurse, athletic trainer or another licensed health professional, uses an inhaler.
  • Specify the individuals, in addition to students, school employees or contractors, and school visitors, to whom a dosage of medication may be administered through an inhaler in an emergency situation.

A school district board of education, governing authority of a chartered or nonchartered nonpublic school or community school may accept donations of inhalers from a wholesale distributor or a manufacturer and may accept donations of money from any person to purchase inhalers.

Inhaler Procurement 

Ohio Law

Public School
ORC 3313.7113 

Chartered or Nonchartered Nonpublic school
ORC 3313.7114

Community School
ORC 3314.144 

Reporting Inhaler Procurement and Usage

Ohio law requires a school or district that elects to procure asthma inhalers to report to the Department each procurement and each occurrence in which a dose of the drug is used from a school's supply.

  • Public and Community schools should report in Education Management Information System (EMIS). For more information on how to report in the system, contact the district's EMIS Coordinator or see section 5.3 of EMIS manual.
  • Non-Public schools should report in the Non-Public Schools Data System (NPDS). See Instructions for Reporting in NPDS for further information.

Free or Reduced-Cost Inhalers

Medical Resources/Supports for Schools

Environmental Resource/Supports to Improve the Environment for Students with Asthma

Last Modified: 6/4/2024 12:40:26 PM