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Schools urge families of asthmatic students to update records early

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 15, 2018, 8:37 p.m.

The spires of St. Aloysius Church are surrounded by smoke from nearby fires in Spokane on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
The spires of St. Aloysius Church are surrounded by smoke from nearby fires in Spokane on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Public Schools picked the perfect time for an unofficial celebration of asthma awareness.

On a hazy Wednesday afternoon at North Central High School, district personnel were available for an information session, providing parents of asthmatic students a chance to update medical records and make sure schools have inhalers on hand.

“It’s to give families another opportunity,” said Rebecca Doughty, the district’s health services director. “We don’t want to wait until the first day of school, though we know we’re still going to have some of that.”

For the past several years, the state has required that all students provide a care plan, medication orders and an inhaler at school before the first day of class.

“It’s not a new requirement,” Doughty said. “We just have not been as good at enforcing it.”

This year, the district will require all three, or students will not be allowed to attend.

“We do it with immunizations,” Doughty said. “It’s not new.”

Moreover, the state requires that all school districts provide in-service asthma training for school personnel; adopt policies for asthma rescue; and allow students to carry and self-administer prescribed medication to treat asthma and severe allergic reactions.

In March, the district sent letters to all parents who had indicated their children had asthma, Doughty said.

However, it was discovered that hundreds of those children were prescribed an inhaler for bronchitis.

“We had lots of kids that had asthma checked, but only a fraction of them had health care plans,” Doughty said.

Parents of children whose conditions have been misidentified simply have to submit an updated health form indicating the child does not have asthma, Doughty said.

The goal is to make sure that records match and that any child with asthma is in the system.

Older students who can use an inhaler on their own can carry the inhaler with them instead with approval from a parent and their doctor, Doughty said.

The district will hold two more information sessions this week, on Thursday at Lewis and Clark High School and Friday at Rogers. Both sessions will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The deadline for submitting asthma care plans and medications to school is Aug. 24.

Students who previously had an asthma care plan and just need to submit an updated care plan, which is required every year, can do that on the first day of school. However, Doughty said she doesn’t recommend that.

A nurse has to sign each form, and process it and any medication turned in. “You’re looking at a wait,” she said. “It’s chaos. The earlier you do that, the better. It gives us more time to process that.”


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