Students across Mississippi suffering with asthma now have the right to self-administer their asthma and anaphylaxis medications while at school or at any school-related function, with the passage of Mississippi Senate Bill 2393.
The bill, signed by Governor Haley Barbour earlier this year, is designed to improve the health of students and ensure that all students with asthma breathe easier, helping them be more alert and perform better academically.
Estelle Watts, State School Nurse Consultant with the Mississippi Department of Education, said allowing students who have asthma to administer medications to themselves while at school is going to significantly improve their focus instead of them having to deal with breathing problems throughout their school day.
“In a recent national analysis of health factors affecting the achievement gap in schools, asthma was identified as one of the six educationally relevant health disparities,” Watts said. “Studies have found that children with poorly controlled asthma tend to have more problems with concentration and memory, to have their sleep disrupted and to miss more days of school than children without the condition. In fact, asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism.”
Students who are allowed to administer medications to themselves must have written permission from a parent and written instructions from a health care provider. This gives them permission to use their inhalers and epinephrine pens on school property, school trips or any school event.
School staffs are undergoing comprehensive asthma management training as part of the provisions of Senate Bill 2393, and school nurses have been attending certified asthma educator training provided by the American Lung Association. Coaches and physical education teachers are also being required to undergo specialized ALA training by the 2011-12 school year.
Shane McNeill, Director of the Office of Healthy Schools, said this bill will assist schools in meeting asthma standards recommened by the ALA, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We know that health is academic and that healthier students are better learners,” McNeill said. “Effective asthma management is one more way that Mississippi schools can ensure that our students are fit, healthy and ready to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”