The risk of exposure to triggers is another important consideration at day care or school. You may have done everything necessary to remove asthma triggers from your home, but your child spends six or more hours each day in school or day care. Take a look around that environment. In Kia’s old middle school building, triggers were easy to spot. But most schools — whether the building is new or old — contain a slew of asthma triggers: dust in carpeting or from chalk; class pets (those cute gerbils, hamsters, and rabbits); cockroaches; strong odors and chemicals used in science, art, or other classes and for cleaning the school; and smoke. Although smoking should be banned in schools, it still occurs.
As an individual parent, you can influence some positive changes if you discuss asthma triggers with school personnel. You can request that animals be removed from the classroom and moved elsewhere. If your child is bothered by chalk dust, he could be seated farther away from the blackboard. If he naps at day care or school, provide his own pillow with a protective covering. Suggest to the school principal that cockroaches are reduced by thorough cleaning, especially in the kitchen and cafeteria areas and through regular exterminating treatments and use of traps. Exterminating, cleaning with chemicals, or maintaining the grounds (mowing the grass or playing fields) should be done before or after school hours.
If you don’t want to stand out as a solitary critic, find other parents of children with asthma and approach school administrators as a small group to make these recommendations. At home, you work hard to keep your child’s asthma under control, so don’t hesitate to ask others to make a collective effort to protect all children with asthma from triggers at day care and school. Children shouldn’t miss school because of this disease. They should be able to pay attention to their schoolwork, participate in all activities, and rarely need to take quick-relief medicine if triggers are eliminated.