COVID-19 has changed many aspects of children’s lives, especially when it comes to education. Classes have gone virtual and students are learning from home. Adjusting to a new normal is difficult and presents unexpected challenges, especially for students with asthma.

Children with asthma face an added burden with symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing, and the triggers that cause these reactions can be difficult to find. To help children with asthma have a healthy learning environment while at home, Lindsay Deinhammer and Michelle Melotik have been providing virtual education to students and families.

“Children with asthma miss school because of their symptoms, and when asthma is not controlled they may not be able to participate in normal activities,” says Deinhammer, a Registered Nurse and Asthma Case Manager for Kenosha County. “Even with children learning from home, asthma management is still important when it comes to controlling symptoms.”

In order to adapt to virtual learning during a pandemic, Lindsay and Michelle started doing virtual visits for students with asthma and their families. During the visits, the two walk through the home and explain any potential asthma triggers such as dust mites, mold, pet dander, certain cleaning products and more.

To help families understand what goes on during the virtual visits, Michelle made binders for them to use and follow along with.

“The binders have an asthma guidebook in the front, a house that folds out and shows different areas and an environmental section that also shows how to help manage their asthma by reducing triggers in the home,” says Michelle, the Asthma Navigator for the Kenosha County Department of Health. “We had to stop doing in-person visits in March, so when we had the virtual option everybody was excited to participate again and it’s been a really positive experience.”

After Michelle drops off the asthma binder at the students’ homes and completes the first virtual visit with Lindsay and the families, she drops off a second batch of asthma resources. The additional resources include asthma-friendly cleaning products, spray bottles and a pillow case.

Despite the world changing during a pandemic, Lindsay and Michelle have made it their mission to ensure that children with asthma and their families are getting the education and resources that they need.

Before children transitioned to an at-home learning environment, their respective school buildings were asthma-friendly, too. The Kenosha School District completed environmental walkthroughs with the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition in all of their buildings to ensure that elementary, middle and high school age children have a healthy learning environment.

“All of the administrative, teaching, and maintenance staff working in the different facilities in the Kenosha School District were great to partner with,” says Brittany Farrell, asthma project manager at Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin. “We completed walkthroughs in 40 buildings and everybody was really receptive to our recommendations and I saw a real commitment from the district as a whole when it came to making an asthma-friendly environment for students and staff.”

As the future of the location of schooling is up in the air with COVID-19, children with asthma in the Kenosha School District will have an asthma-friendly environment no matter where they are learning thanks to the passion and dedication from Lindsay and Michelle.

Resources provided to families include:

  • Asthma Care: your Guide to Managing Asthma
  • Self-Cleaning for People with Asthma
  • A blank Asthma Action Plan
  • A complete asthma safe cleaning kit
  • Dust mite mattress cover and pillow cases
  • Cloth masks, if needed