Did you know that asthma is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in American schools? That’s why the Bakersfield School District in California is starting a new program to keep parents and children well educated on asthma, so kids can stay out of the hospitals and in the classrooms.
One of the board members behind this initiative is Andrae Gonzales, who himself missed many days of school due to asthma. “As a kid… I was hospitalized for it [asthma] several times. It kept me out of school many many times and prevented my second grade class from getting perfect attendance all year long. So I understand what is like to be a student with asthma and get sick often” said Gonzales.
The new program consists of nurses making house calls to families and teaching them about asthma—how to properly take asthma medication with an inhaler or nebulizer and how to prevent asthma attacks. According to school health coordinator Debbie Wood, there are several simple preventative “things that often parents just don’t know.” For example, a parent can choose to smoke outside rather than inside the house. Or they can stop allowing pets to sleep on their child’s bed. The nurses making the house calls will be reimbursed by local health care provider Kern Health Systems, meaning there is no additional charge to the school district or families. School officials are hoping to see a major reduction in absenteeism soon. As Wood put it, “The parents will understand how to take care of them [children with asthma], how to use their medication and so everybody wins.”