Breathe Pennsylvania provides pediatric asthma education, support, and resources through their Certified Asthma Educators. My name is Jeannie Simms, AE-C, and recently a question came in regarding how a teacher could support her students with asthma in the classroom.

Asthma awareness and education is important for all school personnel who interact with students with asthma. It is a partnership established by parents/guardians, the student, the healthcare provider with the school nurse and the student’s teachers.

An Asthma Action Plan is a good starting point and can help identify the student’s individual asthma triggers and early warning signs as well outline the role school personnel play to support the management of the student’s asthma.

If a student with asthma is coughing/wheezing, short of breath, has chest tightness, this may be an asthma attack and you want to be prepared.

  • Stop activity and ask the student if they are having trouble breathing? Do they have their “quick relief” inhaler medication?
  • Encourage the student to stay calm, use the inhaler if available, and follow the asthma action plan. Contact school nurse as designated in the plan.
  • Have student try sitting in a comfortable position: by crossing his/her arms in front, lean forward, elbows resting on a table or on knees to create a tripod position. The student should not lie down.
  • If you know what triggered the asthma attack, separate student from the trigger. Try moving to a cooler area.
  • You can offer water, but not a full glass of water.
  • Follow school procedure and policy for calling 911

If you are unsure of your school’s procedure and policy, talk with your school nurse. Early detection and treatment can lead to a less severe attack, preventing the need for emergency procedure.

If you would like to request the “Asthma in the Classroom” handout, or more information on training for school personnel or would like to talk with a Certified Asthma Educator, contact us.