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MN Schools Miss Honor Roll for Children with Asthma

New research shows schools in the state are falling short of the honor roll when it comes to protecting children with asthma or allergies. Credit: Louis-Paul St-Onge.
New research shows schools in the state are falling short of the honor roll when it comes to protecting children with asthma or allergies. Credit: Louis-Paul St-Onge.
August 24, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – New research finds that Minnesota schools are not making the grade when it comes to providing a healthy and safe learning environment for those children with asthma or allergies.

A study from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America looked at 23 core policy standards and Minnesota only met 15 of them.

Larissa Kaczaniuk, the foundation’s advocacy and outreach manager, says one place where the state falls short is with identification and reporting.

"And with those policies, we want to see that schools are keeping track of students with chronic conditions,” she explains. “So we'd like to see when the state has requirements about updating health records, we'd like see that schools are maintaining incident reports. So if there are any asthma attacks or severe allergic reactions that they're keeping track of how many there are and how they were handled."

On the plus side, Kaczaniuk notes that a couple years ago Minnesota did amend its law on the use of epinephrine in emergencies, requiring public schools to allow students with allergies to possess and carry the devices unless a medical professional determines that the student is unable to do so.

Kaczaniuk says it's vital that the state make more progress towards better school-based policies, as asthma and allergies are among the leading causes of absenteeism locally and nationwide.

"We have approximately 7 million children in the country with asthma and about 6 million with food allergies,” she points out. “So it's impacting a large group of children and since they spend such a large amount of their time at school, school systems need to be able to take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment."

Kaczaniuk says asthma alone leads to about 10.5 million missed school days in the U.S. each year and chronic absence does negatively affect a student's academic performance.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN