Better School Health Policies Help States Go to the Head of the Class
WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 50 million U.S. school-aged children are heading back to classrooms this month, and 8 million (16%) are taking their asthma and food allergies with them. Fortunately, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's (AAFA) new national report -- the State Honor Roll(TM) of Asthma and Allergy Policies for Schools -- many schools are better prepared than ever to help protect these students when they return.
"It's clear that several states are leading the way with healthier school policies," says Charlotte Collins, JD, AAFA's Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. "By advocating for more school nurses, banning tobacco, preparing for asthma and allergy emergencies, and other measures, some states are excellent role models."
Six states were named to this year's Honor Roll. The report recognizes their leadership in mandating comprehensive state-wide school policies that address the needs of students with asthma, food allergies, anaphylaxis and other related allergic diseases in elementary, middle and high schools. The 2008 Honor Roll states are:
-- New Jersey
-- Rhode Island
According to AAFA, the goal of this new report is to provide a blueprint for advocates and policymakers to recognize and develop better state-wide school-based policies and practices for students with asthma and allergies. The full report, methodology, tables, detailed state profiles, as well as back-to-school tips and tools are available at the report Web site, www.StateHonorRoll.com.
Asthma, Allergies and Schools
In the U.S., more than 5 million children have asthma, nearly 3 million children have food allergies and an estimated 10 million have other allergic diseases such as nasal and skin allergies. Asthma alone accounts for one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the U.S. annually, and asthma is the #1 chronic cause of school absenteeism, accounting for nearly 13 million missed school days each year.
"Asthma and allergies have a major effect on schools and student performance," according to Mary Brasler, EdD, MSN, AAFA's Director of Programs and Services, "so it's important to see which states are making strides to address these issues," she said. "When we recognize high-performing states, it shows everyone in the asthma and allergy community that progress can be made. It also gives people in other states the confidence to push for similar progress in their schools."
About the Research
AAFA research and policy experts, in consultation with leaders in the fields of medicine, education and advocacy, identified 18 types of "core policy standards" grouped into three broad categories relating to asthma and allergies, including:
-- Medication & Treatment
-- School Environment
Researchers determined which states had most or all of the 18 policy standards in place and considered these states to be at the forefront of asthma and allergy school advocacy. States with a minimum of 15 of the 18 policy standards in place were named "Honor Roll" states. AAFA recognized these states as good models for policymakers, administrators, teachers, parents and advocates in other states.
Some of the 18 policy standards reviewed for each state include policies protecting a student's right to carry medications, nurse-to-student ratios, emergency protocols for asthma and allergy attacks, indoor and outdoor air quality, smoking and tobacco prohibitions, student health recordkeeping and more. A description of the 18 policy standards, summary