Vermont Asthma-friendly School Program

Becoming an asthma-friendly school is simple to do and benefits all students and staff—especially those who have been diagnosed with asthma. We know that most schools work hard to create safe and healthy learning environments – so why not get credit for your efforts and keep building on all the amazing work to make your school as asthma- friendly as possible?

Why is it Important?

Roughly 9,000 (1 in 12) of Vermont's children have asthma, and 61% of children with asthma have uncontrolled asthma. That means the potential for lots of missed school and workdays, and costly asthma-related emergencies. Many of the asthma-friendly strategies described below can help students and staff members with asthma avoid triggers, manage their symptoms, and successfully learn and thrive.  

Why Become an Asthma-friendly School?

Being recognized as an asthma-friendly school shows staff and other schools across Vermont that asthma-friendly policies and practices are a priority in your school or school district. It also shows students, parents and guardians that health is taken seriously and valued, regardless of whether their children have asthma or not.

How to Become an Asthma-friendly School?

Nominate your school for being asthma-friendly by filling out the form at the link below by May 31 and tell us how your school supports good asthma control and health for all. The survey will take 10 minutes to complete. Simply check all the best practices your school followed since the start of this school year. The more points you earn, the higher the recognition level your school will receive. Multiple nominations can be received for the same school so the school nurse, facilities director, administrator, parent or student can participate. Recognition will be announced in June by the Vermont Asthma Program.  

Is Your School a Bronze, Silver or Gold-Level? 

There are three recognition levels. Bronze-level recognition needs a minimum of 7 best practices; silver requires a minimum of 14 items; and gold requires at least 21 items. Most schools qualify for bronze level due to actions required by state law and in response to COVID-19. But perhaps your school can reach the silver or gold level by taking a few more action steps. It’s easy! Schools achieving bronze, silver, or gold levels will receive a certificate of recognition and will be listed on the Health Department’s Asthma Friendly Schools webpage and in any local press releases.

Nominate Now!

To fill out the Asthma-friendly Schools Nomination Form online, click below:

Online Form

For questions about the Asthma-friendly School Program, please contact the Vermont Department of Health Asthma Program.

A lightbulb with the words Quick Tip under it.
  • Review the list of simple, low-cost asthma-friendly best practices and determine what you will implement OR what work you already do that you can claim credit for!
  • Put into place a few more items to increase your score. You might want to get input from your school nurse, facilities director, or administrators to get the most points.
  • Nominate your school by May 31, 2024.

Asthma-friendly Schools Recognition Program Winners 2022-2023 School Year

Winners from the 2021-2022 School Year

•    Braintree Elementary
•    Brookfield Elementary
•    Currier Memorial School
•    Doty Memorial School
•    And a special mention to Windsor School for achieving Gold-Level!

Supports to Help Make Your School More Asthma-friendly

Check out the resources below to help make your school asthma-friendly. All of these are designed to help identify easy steps to improve conditions for students (and staff) with asthma and promote good health for all. 

Important COVID-19, Flu Season, and Asthma Considerations for Schools

Individuals with moderate to severe asthma may be at a higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. Since COVID-19 can affect the respiratory tract, being exposed to the virus may lead to an asthma attack, and possibly acute respiratory disease and pneumonia. Students and staff members with asthma may consider wearing a mask when flu, COVID, or other viral infection levels are high for added prevention.

» Get the most up-to-date information on Vermont’s response and guidance surrounding COVID-19. 
» Learn more about the link between COVID-19 and asthma via the CDC.

Which products are recommended to be used for cleaning schools?

Since many cleaning products and chemicals can trigger asthma symptoms and attacks, schools are strongly encouraged to use cleaning products that are fragrance-free, non-toxic, and certified by a third-party like Green Seal or EPA’s Safer Choice. Disinfectants should be certified by The EPA's Design for the Environment Program or contain safer active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, citric-acid, ethanol, or l-lactic acid.

Under Vermont’s Act 68 of 2012, commercial vendors are required to sell only third-party certified, environmentally preferable cleaning products to Vermont schools.

Schools and Local Education Agencies should also prohibit staff members, teachers, and parents from bringing in their own cleaning products.

How can schools use disinfectants properly to control COVID-19, knowing that some students and staff members have asthma?

People with asthma may find that their symptoms are made worse when exposed to smells and fumes from cleaning chemicals and disinfectants. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages individuals to take the following safeguards when using cleaning products in any setting:

  • Select products with safer ingredients, like ethanol, isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol), hydrogen peroxide, L-Lactic acid, or citric acid.
  • Always read labels and only use products as directed.
  • Use products that could reduce inhalation exposure (such as damp paper towels or wipes, rather than sprays) when disinfecting surfaces.
  • Wash hands after handling any cleaning product or after coming into contact with a surface that may be contaminated with COVID-19.
  • Review the CDC’s cleaning recommendations for COVID-19
What about indoor air quality systems and preventative maintenance procedures?

Did your school make HVAC improvements to increase ventilation, improve filtration and/or address humidity? Keeping these air quality systems and preventative maintenance procedures up-to-date and implemented properly can help support good air quality and COVID-19 prevention efforts.

The following steps are recommended with regard to ventilation and HVAC:

  • Ensure that the school ventilation system is properly cleaned and meets the operating standards recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Operate HVAC systems in occupied mode for at least a week prior to reopening while assuring that the outdoor air dampers are open.
  • Encourage staff members to provide additional outside time, as well as open windows when it is safe to do so (such as when there is no risk of falling, noise, or triggering an asthma attack).
  • Ensure ventilation systems work properly and increase circulation of outdoor air.

» Read more about HVAC and ventilation during COVID-19 from ASHRAE Epidemic Taskforce Schools & Universities
» Review Vermont’s guidance for safely reopening schools

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