RAMP co-hosts legislative briefing on asthma and schools

RAMP, with Assembly Member Julia Brownley, The California Endowment, and the California Teachers Association, hosted a legislative briefing on asthma in schools on Monday, February 28th.  Over thirty legislative staff, partners, lobbyists, and media left standing room only in the Capitol conference room to hear from experts about the burden of asthma in California’s schools.

After brief welcoming remarks by the Assemblywoman and The California Endowment, RAMP’s director, Anne Kelsey Lamb, moderated a panel presentation outlining the issue of asthma in schools.  Researchers from the Phillip R. Lee Institute of Health Policy Studies at the University of California at San Francisco kicked off the presentations with a description of asthma prevalence among school-aged children as well as school staff and an overview of results of their recent research on asthma’s impact on school budgets and achievement.  People were very interested in their findings that suggest that schools lose significant resources due to asthma-related absences and that asthma is associated with lower API scores at the middle and high school levels.

A representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Environments Team then outlined the links between school environments and asthma as well as the challenges schools face in maintaining healthy school facilities.  Without sufficient dedication and resources, the systems that keep school facilities healthy can fall to disrepair, affecting the health and performance of students and teachers.

A CTA chapter president from the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District (F-SUSD) followed with a first-hand account of being a teacher with asthma in an unhealthy school environment and how she worked with the entire school community and other partners to do something about it.  After a lot of hard work, today F-SUSD employs several strategies to create healthy classrooms and school facilities and teachers, students, and custodial staff report significantly less trouble with their asthma.

Finally, RAMP Program Associate, Susan Watson, outlined a wide range of effective strategies schools can use to address asthma.  Attendees walked away understanding that schools can develop appropriate policies that address the clinical management of asthma, indoor air quality, and outdoor air quality.  Together, schools can play a vital role in reducing the burden of asthma in the state, especially among the one in six children in California that have been diagnosed with asthma.

RAMP thanks our partners for their input and support of this event.

The agenda for the event can be found here.  And a list of policy solutions can be found here.