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Advice Needed Please: My son’s school will not allow his inhaler in the classroom.

Hello, my son is starting kindergarten soon. We just had the parent / teacher meeting and I was informed that his inhaler will need to be kept in the nurse's office. I was told that if he has an asthma attack the teacher's aid will walk with him to the nurse's office to use his inhaler. I worry about my son having to walk approximately 180 feet to receive his medicine. I also spoke to the principal and she thinks this is the correct thing to do and will not make adjustments for my son. They have 2 other children with asthma that follow this policy. 

Has anyone encountered this? Is this safe for my son? What would you do? 

Thank you, Heather

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  • Shea

    That sounds ridiculous to me not letting your child carry the inhaler. I would push and try to get a doctor's note that the child is able to use his/her inhaler appropriately and have the inhaler in both locations just in case. I know some people on the forum know about 504 plans maybe they can chine in– there is a link below as well:

  • Melissa G

    Hi Heather! Welcome to AAFA! 

    Have you talked with your allergist to see what his/her opinion is on where the inhaler should be kept? Is his asthma well controlled or does he need his inhaler a lot? Do you have a IHP for your son?

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Thank you so much for responding to my question. His asthma is well controlled, but certain factors (like sugar cane burning) can really upset his asthma. The school is a catholic school and will not follow the 504 plan. I wish they did.

    I spoke to his doctor and he said to follow the school policy. He would not give me a note. What is an IHP? He does have an asthma action plan. 

    I appreciate your help. Thanks again, Heather

  • Melissa G

    An IHP, individual health plan. Is the school nurse the one you talked with about where the inhaler needed to be kept? If not could you call and talk with her and explain your concerns?

  • Dixiestix

    I don’t know where you live, but Kentucky legislated that kids can carry their inhalers. Check to see if there are any laws against carrying inhalers in school. If not, then legally, you could push for this. If the child’s doctor isn’t an asthma/allergy specialist, then I recommend you take him to one. They will sign off on it. You may approach the school’s site based decision making council, if there is one. Also, the local school board may be willing to hear your case, especially if you have documentation from a specialist. Best of luck!

  • Kathy P

    Welcome DixieStix! Self carry laws do vary by state, but all states do have a provision for self-carrying their rescue inhaler. You can find the info for your state in AAFA's State Honor Roll Report –

    Heather – keeping the inhaler in the nurses office is common, but it's not the only way. It comes down to working with the school and your doctor to put the best plan in place for your child. You and your child's doctor have to make the determination if he is able to self-carry – this means it goes with the child wherever he goes. There is a good .

    You can find more resources in our .

  • Shea

    My son has food allergies and he is 6. He does public virtual school, and I act as his learning coach but he has a teacher and we use free state curriculum and have optional classroom livelessons with his teacher and the other kids his class– we both really like it, and we chose this type of class because both of us were more comfortable with it than the bricks abd mortor school– I did not like the public school's policies and practices for food allergies, and I have the ability to do the learning coach role for his online school… So we went this direction and are in our 2nd year loving it–. So I completely understand wanting safety and comfort in the school setting for your child… And there are other schools and options out there if you cannot find it at your first choice… So you can always assess your options: You could look into other school that do accept 504 plans, you could talk to the doctor again and say you do not want his opinion on following whatever school policy you decide to go to but you just want him to write a simple note stating your child's diagnosis and treatment plan including that the prescribed inhaler be with him or his caretaker at all times including class/outings/fieldtrips/ PE/sport events to treat asthma symptoms as needed… And then use that to show to the powers that be at the school(s) and if you do go the 504 plan way you can use that to help you make it too. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, and welcome, Heather! This has to be super frustrating and stressful for you. What I am hearing is that you are worried that he won't have immediate access if he needs his inhaler.

    As Kathy has said, each state does have a provision about self-carry, but many of those provisions only cover schools under the "public school" jurisdiction. Also, while the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) covers all public and most private schools, private schools that are religious-based, like Catholic schools, are specifically exempted from the ADA.

    The video talks about the (individualized health care plan), and it's well worth the time to listen to it, even though it's about food allergies and not asthma. 

    Just because a school doesn't issue 504s doesn't mean the school won't help you or accommodate your kiddo — although it sounds as though your school has a ways to go to make you feel heard.

    Would the school nurse, principal and teacher be willing to walk that walk and time it? They also need to think about it from the perspective of a little kiddo who is not feeling the best — and at different times of the day. The halls may be full of kiddos going to and from classes, and even if they are empty, some kiddos don't feel comfortable in an empty hallway.

    Could you focus on what your kiddo needs, and help guide the school in the right direction? Something like:

    "Okay, I can understand that other kiddos have been able to make that 180 foot walk to the school nurse for their inhalers. But here are some questions and concerns I have …"

    1. Will my son be accompanied by an adult who is trained in first aid and CPR on that walk? 
    2. What happens if there is no adult to walk with him or if he's not able to walk?
    3. If there's not a spare person — a teacher's aide or paraprofessional — in the room who can walk with my son, then will other children be left unsupervised?
    4. What about field trips, recess or the cafeteria? 
    5. What about special emergency evacuations or other situations? School lockdowns, fire evacuations and fire drills, tornado warnings and tornado drills?
    6. What about days when the nurse is out, either for sick leave or personal reasons or for training purposes?
    7. If self-carry isn't an option, could we try having a hand-off of the inhaler in a bag or sack from teacher to teacher? (Some members on our Kids With Food Allergies community have used locking bank bags or the clear )

    If they have good answers for these questions, I think you would feel more assured and not so anxious. These are questions that are helpful to ask anyway, even if he is allowed to self-carry, because even grown-ups can sometimes need help to use an inhaler.

    And even though you wouldn't have a 504, could you ask that the plan, whatever it finally is, be written down? And signed? It won't be a legally binding plan like a 504, but it will be clear and written down and everyone will understand expectations and responsibilities.

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Thank you so much for all your great advice, resources, and help. I spoke with the school and they will call the nurse when he has an asthma attack. The nurse will bring his inhaler right to him. They said he is too young to carry the inhaler.

    The teacher also said that she is familiar with asthma, which made me feel better.

    I also spoke to his doctor and he said to start giving him Qvar everyday to help prevent an attack. His said my goal should be to stop the attacks from happening rather than worrying about treating them.

    The school also said that he can skip recess outside when the sugarcane is being burned and play in the gym inside instead.

    I have been thinking about hiding an inhaler in his book bag and only using it in an emergency, but do not want to get him in trouble or have someone in his class find it.

    I think he will be safer now. Praying for no asthma attacks. 

    Sorry for my long reply.

    Best, Heather 

  • LK

    Heather,  Good for you for talking with the school again.  That is good news that the nurse will bring it to him instead of him having to walk to the nurse's office.  A few questions that comes to mind – What if the nurse is at lunch or taking care of another child or out sick for the day?  Is there a plan for an alternate person to bring him his inhaler?  Will there be someone with him if he is the only child in the gym?

    Don't mean to be nosy, but I am a mother and a grandmother so I have been through many situations when things happen and it is good to have a plan B and sometimes a plan C, as well.

    Oh, and please don't worry about posting long comments or replies!  You should see some of the ones I have written!  

  • Melissa G

    Heather I am so glad to hear you talked with the school again and your son's doctor! Have you already started the qvar, if so, how is he doing on it? when does school start?

  • Shea

    I dont like it– having to depend on a nurse or her sub for a life-threatening disease because THEY feel the child is too young to carry it… And the doctor– duh we would like to prevent all attacks but taking more and more preventatives because they wont let you carry it and use it when you need it– AND its not like you csn control every trigger. Studues in preschools found asthmatic kids had to use more medicine, stay home more often, and had worse asthma when more kids in their classrooms resided with cats in their homes because of dander carried on them and their belingings flaring up these kids. Smoke can get inside too. Kids can be trained– we train them every day to do all sorts of things and you shouldnt have to lie snd hide and be nervous about then finding the hidden inhaler or him nervous to be seen using it. Just tell him the rules with it, have him notify the teacher when using it– I carry 2 inhalers all the time in case I lose one so I think its good the nurse has one but I think your son should get to have one too. That is just me and my 2 cents…. I know I am a little over the top but I have been let down from schools and policies and I like to have things in my and my childs hands.

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    School starts tomorrow here and I am so worried! My son is so allergic to pet dander. I wish I could know if anyone has a cat. It is so stressful.  Thank you so much for your advice. I will put an inhaler in his bookbag. I will tell him to use it when he needs it. You all are right. He shouldn't have to wait. I can't believe he is in this situation. It is so surprising. His twin brother is in the same class and I will show him where the inhaler is and to help his brother if / when he needs it.

    The school said the nurse's office always has 2 people in the room and the admin office is right next store. They said they will help as well. They promised that my son will always have someone to bring it to him.

    He hasn't had an asthma attack since being on the Qvar, but he hasn't had any of his triggers either. He has been on it for 4 days. But after reading all the possible side effects of this medicine I wonder if it is worth it. 

    Thanks again for all your help, Heather 

  • Shea

    It's good he has it with in case they dont bring it to him or dont listen or if he just gets too shy to ask then it is there. And it is good that you made them very aware of his asthma. Also very cool his twon bro is in the class to help. I think it will work out well!!!

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Heather … I can see you are having to make some tough choices. 

    I love Lisa (LK)'s approach about bringing up the what-ifs. For me, that is a great approach that has worked in the past. 

    One thing that would worry me about putting the inhaler in the bookbag is that even if it's there, your kiddos may be too intimidated to use it … and another is that if they DID use it, they could be subject to whatever rules the school has about contraband drugs.

    I do think that the school is moving in the right direction. And I can understand how your doctor is concerned with preventing attacks rather than treating them. Asthma attacks can happen at any time, sometimes despite the very best treatment, so I also understand your worry.

    Still, having an inhaler in the classroom (even if it's held by the teacher) would be a great compromise — could you ask if there is ANY way that the teacher could hold it in the classroom?

  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, @HeatherKarpinsky, were you ever able to get your son's inhaler approved for him to take without having to just put it in his bookbag?

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Good morning, thank you so much for checking in on my son and our journey. I was not able to get the inhaler approved and it is held for him in the nurse's office (I also have one hidden in his book bag). He has not had any issues at school yet (but seasonal allergies are soon approaching and I am nervous). We have an appointment today with his doctor. I am looking forward to hearing what he says when we are there in person. Hope you are all doing well. Best, Heather

  • K8sMom2002

    Good luck at the doctor's office! I hope you'll be able to talk with the doctor and get him to agree that it's a good idea for your son to have the inhaler in the room. 

    Let us know how it goes! Sending good your way …

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Good morning, our doctor said that the school policy is not safe and he keeps seeing more and more schools enforcing this for young children. He also feels my son is too young to carry an inhaler and said I should remove it from his book bag. This is not what I was hoping for and it makes me so nervous.  Our doctor said that most schools change the policy after they experience an asthma attack and that I should wait to see how it is handled. He said to trust the school. It is so sad that my son has to go through this. I just do not understand why having an inhaler in the classroom in so dangerous. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, hugs, Heather! It stinks that the doc realizes that the policy isn't safe, but that he isn't willing to allow your kiddo to self carry. 

    Would the doctor sign a letter saying that he advises that the inhaler be in the classroom? 

    If not, could you monitor the air quality (), and then on days when the air quality is predicted to drop into the yellow, send an email or note to the nurse and the teacher?

    I used to do something similar when DD was in preschool — when pollen days were high, I would let the teachers know to watch out for her. Sometimes when teachers and staff realize how often the air quality takes a hit, they will see the need for having the inhaler very close by.

    And on the flip side — when you note how many times the air quality drops and he DOESN'T need his inhaler or have trouble, that can really help to reassure you.

  • Melissa G

    Heather how have things been going? How is your son doing? Has he had any asthma problems?