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Ryan’s Law: Ontario Lung Association Ready to Support Schools with Implementation

May 05, 2015

Toronto, ON – There will be many changes in Ontario schools – some noticeable immediately, others that will happen over time – following last week’s unanimous vote in the Ontario legislature to pass Bill 20 – Ryan’s Law (Ensuring Asthma Friendly Schools).

The legislation requires every school board and school in the province to institute policies and procedures to make schools safe for the 570,000 students (or one in four) who have asthma. It is named after Ryan Gibbons, who died in October 2012 after suffering an asthma attack at school.

Media reports on the new law have focused on the provision requiring school principals to allow students to carry their asthma medication if they have the permission of a parent or guardian. (Students 16 and older do not require permission.)

But Ryan’s Law goes much further, replacing the current patchwork of school board policies and rules with consistent standards for asthma education and preparedness across the provincial education system.

That means that over the next few months, Education Ministry officials will be working with school boards, lung health organizations and other stakeholders to plan the rollout of far-reaching changes to the way schools deal with asthma and the students who live with this serious, and potentially fatal lung disease.

Key requirements of the new law include:

  • Every school board must develop strategies to reduce exposure to asthma triggers. A trigger is anything that can cause asthma symptoms. Common asthma triggers include mould, dust, scents, fumes from chemical cleaning products and diesel fumes from idling school buses.
  • Every school board must develop a plan to provide regular staff training on asthma management, including recognizing symptoms and managing attacks.
  • Every school principal must develop an individual plan for each student with asthma and keep it on file. This asthma plan includes details about monitoring, trigger avoidance strategies, which medications may be needed and where they are kept, and a readily accessible emergency plan.

The Ontario Lung Association already offers a wide range of asthma resources for students, parents and schools. All can be downloaded at www.on.lung.ca/resources or ordered by calling 1-888-344-LUNG (5864).

These resources include:

  • Student Asthma Management Plan should be completed by a parent or guardian and given to the school principal or administrator. The form lists the child’s asthma triggers, medications and emergency contact information. It also includes instructions on how to manage an asthma attack.
  • Managing Asthma Attacks poster has vital information on recognizing an asthma attack and what steps to take when one occurs. It can be displayed in key areas of the school.
  • 7 Steps to Make Schools Asthma-Friendly is a handy booklet with important tips for making the school environment safe for children with asthma.
  • Asthma Active is a book of puzzles, games and information showing children ages seven to 10 how to control their asthma while staying active by participating in sports and games.

The Creating Asthma Friendly Environments website – www.asthmainschools.com – has information and support for creating asthma friendly schools and child care centres.

If you have any questions about Ryan’s Law, your child’s asthma or any other lung health issue, call the Ontario Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or email info@on.lung.ca.

About the Ontario Lung Association

The Ontario Lung Association is a registered charity that assists, educates and empowers individuals living with or caring for others with lung disease. We provide programs and services to patients and health-care providers, invest in lung research and campaign for improved policies on lung health. Our Lung Health Information Line – 1‐888‐344‐LUNG (5864) – is staffed by certified respiratory educators.

Contact:

John Chenery – Ontario Lung Association 416-864-9911 ext. 292 | C: 647-293-9911 | jchenery@on.lung.ca