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Schools provide valuable education to students. But the very resource that is supposed to benefit our children can actually be a cause of asthma symptoms and allergic reactions.

Some states have policies in place that protect children with asthma and allergies. These 15 states made our 2019 State Honor Roll™ of Asthma and Allergy Policies for Schools (SHR).

About the State Honor Roll™ of Asthma and Allergy Policies for Schools (SHR)

In the SHR, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) identifies states that have comprehensive laws and policies aimed at keeping children with asthma and allergies healthy at school.

The report shows the 23 core policies that target the needs of children with asthma and allergies in schools. States make our Honor Roll when they meet 18 of 23 policies.

AAFA’s 15 Honor Roll States

  • Connecticut*
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia*
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

*Connecticut and the District of Columbia meet all 23 benchmarks on our Honor Roll.


Schools and the September Asthma Epidemic

Why are these policies important? For many reasons. For one, asthma is the main reason for missed school days.1 It contributes to the annual economic cost of asthma. Asthma costs around $82 billion each year.2 A school’s environment and policies can actually cause asthma symptoms. Aging schools can be home to pests, mold, pollen, pet dander and strong scents such as from cleaning chemicals.

And schools can contribute to the September Asthma Epidemic. September is the highest month for asthma-related hospitalizations, especially in children. The third week of September – Asthma Peak Week – is the worst. Here are some ways schools can put children with asthma and allergies at risk:

  • Poor school indoor air quality that can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms the child may not have been exposed to over the summer
  • Higher rates of illness and respiratory infections, such as colds and flu
  • Smoking and/or vaping on campus
  • Air pollution from school buses

“Sending kids back to school can be stressful, especially if your child has asthma or allergies,” said Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of AAFA. “Every year, September brings an epidemic of asthma attacks. School buildings can be full of asthma and allergy triggers. Combined with the start of cold and flu season, these factors are a perfect storm that impact vulnerable students and staff. With proper school policies to promote more asthma and allergy friendly environments, we can prevent allergic reactions and asthma attacks. We hope more states will qualify for AAFA’s State Honor Roll so that all students have the opportunity to learn in a healthy environment.”

Your Role in Your State’s Policies

Our Honor Roll report is a guide to show you what policies are needed in your state for children with asthma and allergies. Ask your state lawmakers to support policies like these to make the health of children with asthma and allergies a priority.

When states follow policies that have the well-being of children with asthma and allergies in mind, they can reduce missed school days and the risk of the September Asthma Epidemic. We applaud the 15 states on our SHR. They recognize that children who are fighting asthma and allergy symptoms can’t learn as well. These policies not only contribute to the health of our children, but also to their present and future success. We encourage other states to follow their example.

1. Zahran, H., Bailey, C., Damon, S., Garbe, P. and Breysse, P. (2018). Vital Signs: Asthma in Children — United States, 2001–2016. DOI:
2. (2018). The Economic Burden of Asthma in the United States, 2008 - 2013 | Annals of the American Thoracic Society | Articles in Press. [online] Available at:

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