An annual report gives Nebraska failing scores for the state’s policies that impact children with asthma and allergies.
Larissa Kaczaniuk, advocacy and outreach manager for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, says they study 23 core standards and any states that match 18 of those standards are put on the Honor Roll. This year, Nebraska only checked off 11 categories.
“Nebraska had some gaps,” Kaczaniuk says. “It looks like the biggest gap was with school environment policies. This is doing everything to evaluate — is the school environment healthy? Is it safe?”
While Nebraska got kudos for its laws that restrict smoking and the use of tobacco products, she says the state could be doing more.
“The report looks to see if states have indoor air quality management policies in place,” Kaczaniuk says. “Does the school conduct periodic inspections of heating and air conditioning systems? It’s also checking to make sure smoking is prohibited on school grounds, so that was where Nebraska had some issues.”
On the plus side, Nebraska does requires a physician’s written instructions to be on file to dispense prescription medication to students, and state policy ensures students’ right to self-carry and self-administer prescribed asthma medication.
“The state does require accredited schools and early childhood education programs to have emergency response protocols in place for asthma and severe allergic reactions,” she says. “That’s an example of something the state is doing well, recognizing the potential severity of both of these chronic conditions and making sure the schools are prepared to handle any emergencies.”
While 14 states were named to the Honor Roll, there’s always room for improvement, she notes, as none of them had a perfect score.
About 7-million children nationwide have asthma, another 6-million have a food allergy. She says it’s vital the state make more progress toward better school-based policies, as asthma and allergies are among the leading causes of absenteeism. Asthma alone leads to an average of 10.5-million missed school days in the U-S each year.