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New State "Honor Roll" Reveals New Standards, New States and New Outlooks for Asthma & Allergy School Policies

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SOURCE Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Two New States Named to the 2014 Asthma and Allergy School Honor Roll During a Record Year for Medication Access, but More Still Needs to Be Done.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In just a few weeks, schools will be back in session for the millions of students with asthma and food allergies. So what are schools doing to protect students and teachers with these chronic diseases? Today the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) revealed its 2014 State Honor Roll™ of Asthma and Allergy Policies for Schools, comparing all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) on numerous policy standards to find out which states made their annual "Honor Roll," or not. While some states have already implemented crucial school policies to support students and staff, many states still have not done enough to meet the Foundation's standards.

The updated report, at www.StateHonorRoll.org, is an annual look at how states compare on 23 core policy issues – newly revised up from 18 core policy issues last year – that affect kids and adults with asthma and allergies while they spend the day in schoolrooms nationwide.

Eight states and the District of Columbia currently meet the Foundation's criteria to be listed on the State Honor Roll™. These states implemented at least 18 of AAFA's 23 "core policy standards" to secure a spot on the Honor Roll this year and have exhibited consistent leadership in comprehensive statewide school policies that address the needs of students with asthma, food allergies, anaphylaxis and other related allergic diseases in public elementary, middle and high schools.

The 2014 State Honor Roll list includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi (New)
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia (New)

"Although less than 20 percent of states meet the Foundation's criteria, the progress that has been made cannot be ignored," says Charlotte Collins, AAFA's Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs, and principal investigator of the study. "There is definitely momentum," says Collins.  An additional twelve states passed laws enabling schools to stock and use epinephrine auto-injectors for students who need anaphylaxis medications in an emergency, bringing the total number of states with such laws to 39. Two new states joined the State Honor Roll list, even with the increased standards, and one of those states – Mississippi – accomplished it just by passing one comprehensive law that addressed many of the policy issues.  Policy makers, parents, school administrators and health professionals should look to these states and the others as models. Surprisingly, one state that had been on the Honor Roll for the past 2 years – Indiana –did not make the list this year because it fell behind the higher threshold for inclusion on the Honor Roll. 

"This report is a call to action for parents and advocates across the country, and it's more than just a list of policies" says Dr. Cary Sennett, AAFA's President & CEO. "It's a blueprint for all the other states to see where progress is being made around the US and how to create and enact policies that save lives."

Asthma and allergic diseases are serious and shouldn't be taken lightly. With 14 million missed school days annually, schools should at least ensure the safety of students and staff when under their care. The 8 million children with asthma should have quick access to their medications. The 3 million students with diagnosed food allergies – and the many others with undiagnosed food allergies – should have immediate access to life-saving epinephrine. Furthermore, the millions of adults who have asthma and allergies should have access as well.

About the Study
For AAFA's State Honor Roll report, three categories of policies were assessed:  Medication & Treatment policies, Awareness policies and School Environment policies.  Within these categories AAFA research and policy experts, in consultation with leaders in the fields of medicine, education and advocacy, identified 23 core policy standards relating to asthma and allergies in schools.  Policy areas included school nurse-to-student ratios, laws allowing students to carry and administer their asthma and anaphylaxis medications, indoor air quality policies for school buildings, smoking bans and cessation programs, and more.

The full report, methodology, tables, detailed state profiles, maps, as well as back-to-school tips and tools, are available at www.StateHonorRoll.org.  The 2014 report is sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P., with additional support from Genentech and individual donations to AAFA from patients, families and supporters.

About AAFA
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions through education, advocacy and research. For more information about asthma and allergies, visit www.aafa.org or call 1-800-7-ASTHMA.

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