As NYC Students Head Back to School, New Subway Ad Campaign Reminds Parents That Asthma Can be Managed at School

CSA Asthma Subway CampaignCouncil of School Supervisors and Administrators and Children’s Health Fund collaborate to remind parents to return medical paperwork at start of the school year

NEW YORK (August 19, 2013)—More than 140,000 children in New York City public schools have asthma, and as they prepare to go back to school, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) and Children’s Health Fund are launching a subway ad campaign to try to make a healthier school year. Launching today, the ad campaign is a reminder to parents to return critical medical paperwork to the school.

All parents should ensure that the Emergency Contact Card and the Comprehensive Medical Examination form on file at their child’s school are up-to-date. And for kids with asthma, a critical document is the Medication Administration Form (504 or MAF), which provides parent/guardian consent for children to get needed medication during the school day and must be filled out by a child’s health care provider.

Asthma creates one of the most common medical disruptions in classrooms across the city, and it is estimated that more than 12.8 million school days are missed by students across the country due to uncontrolled asthma. When an elementary school-age child has an attack in a public school, the child’s 504 form on file at school authorizes school personnel to provide the proper medication so the student can get back to the classroom and back to his or her education with minimal disruption.

“If a child has a severe asthma attack at school, our hands are tied if we don’t have the 504 form on file. Our only recourse is to call 911, and that is traumatic not only for the child, but also for classmates, the teacher, and others in the school,” said Ernest Logan, president of CSA. “As an educator in the NYC system for more than 25 years, I saw this happen time and again. Administrators and supervisors in our schools want to work with parents to make sure that we are ready to help their children in the event of a medical crisis.”

Parents can get the 504 form from their child’s school, from their pediatrician, or by downloading it online at http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/AF5444D9-25DC-4A5F-918E-7E872F646C89/0/MAF1213.pdf.

“Asthma is epidemic in New York City and across the country, but it is a treatable, manageable condition. When children are unable to receive their reliever medication in a timely manner, they may miss valuable hours in the classroom,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, president and co-founder of Children’s Health Fund. “And it’s not just missing school. Untreated asthma can cause children to be up all night coughing, leaving them exhausted in the classroom. Parents, pediatricians and schools need to work together so that every child is healthy and ready to learn.” This month Children’s Health Fund and CSA are also reaching out directly to health care professionals, asking them to take an extra moment to ensure parents understand how important these forms are for their child’s well-being in school.

Recognizing uncontrolled asthma as a significant problem in the classroom, CSA contacted Children’s Health Fund to explore solutions last spring. Children’s Health Fund was embarking on its EVERY CHILD A CHANCE campaign to ensure children are healthy and ready to learn and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate. Along with the subway ad campaign, CSA is collaborating with Children’s Health Fund on additional initiatives in the year ahead including research already underway to understand the larger impact of health barriers to learning.

The ad campaign will run from August 19 through the end of September.