Act now on school action plans: Planning for a safe and healthy school year ahead
July 05, 2022
Two sisters wearing backpacks running home from school

    Summer is the time to take care of your child's school action plan

    Getting ready for school includes more than backpacks and pencils, especially for kids with chronic health conditions. If your child has asthma, diabetes or another condition that requires medication or care at school, summer is the time to talk to their doctor about the school action plan for the coming academic year.

    Kathleen Bowden, program administrator for our You Can Control Asthma Now program explains what school action plans are and why they’re important.

    What’s included in a school action plan?

    This varies based on diagnosis, but in general action plans include information about the specific medication(s) your child takes, along with details about when and how they should be provided at school.

    For kids with asthma, the plan would list the daily control medication they take at home, and what rescue medication should be given if they have asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath, during the school day. It would provide further details about how much medication is to be given, how often it should be given and what to do if symptoms continue. Asthma action plans can also include information about things that trigger your child’s asthma symptoms and let the school nurse know if your child should receive medication before PE class.

    For diabetes the plan is called a diabetes medical management plan, but it functions the same way by including the dosage and timing of insulin and what to do to treat a high or low blood sugar.

    Other conditions may have different names for their plans, but they’ll provide the same essential information.

    Why are school action plans important?

    Action plans keep kids safe by providing nurses and other school personnel:

    • Written information about your child’s medical condition and the symptoms they may experience at school.
    • Specific directions on what to do if symptoms occur.
    • Permission from a physician and parent/guardian to provide this treatment at school.

    Who needs a school action plan?

    Every child with a medical condition that may require them to take essential medication while at school or in a childcare setting should have an action plan, DMMP or similar plan developed and signed by a medical provider. This is what allows the school or childcare personnel to legally provide this medicine or related treatment.

    It’s important to get this plan upon diagnosis of the condition, and then with each new school year or significant change to the condition or treatment plan.

    When should families begin thinking about a school action plan?

    During the summer! The new school year is not usually top of mind while enjoying summer break, but you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to schedule an appointment and meet with your child’s pediatrician or specialist. They will need to complete and sign the plan and prescribe medications/supplies, so everything is ready before the first day of school. Remember, a new plan is needed each school year.

    When kids get into middle school and high school, they can sometimes be given permission to carry certain medications in their bags rather than keeping them in the clinic. The school still needs to be made aware of the medical condition and medication. An action plan is the best way to do this.

    Do all medical conditions require a school action plan?

    Many conditions that may require care at school require them, but not all. Some conditions, especially those that may require regular hospitalization, are addresses through 504 plans with the school. Talk with your child’s doctor about the most appropriate plan to ensure they can safely and efficiently get the care they need during the school day or while in childcare.

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