Some Waterloo Region students allowed to carry asthma puffers
A mother in Straffordville, southwest of Tillsonburg, is fighting to have students allowed to carry asthma inhalers with them in case of emergency.
But in Waterloo Region, it’s not clear if Sandra Gibbons’ campaign will change anything about how schools handle puffers.
Gibbons’ son, 12-year-old Ryan Gibbons, died in 2012 when he suffered a severe asthma attack during recess.
He had told his friends he wasn’t feeling well, and was being carried into the office of the school’s principal – where his inhaler was under lock and key.
Sandra Gibbons says the school wouldn’t allow her son to carry his own inhaler, and confiscated several on occasions he tried to do so.
Since her son’s death, Gibbons has been campaigning for Ontario school boards to adopt standardized asthma inhaler policies.
That fight has also been taken up by Jeff Yurek, the Progressive Conservative MPP representing Elgin-Middlesex-London.
Yurek says he’s seeking uniformity, as some school boards allow students to carry puffers while others want them to be left with teachers and others want them left with principals.
Asthmatic students in Waterloo Region seem to fall closer into the first group.
In a statement, the Waterloo Region District School Board tells CTV News that while school offices must be notified of students who use inhalers, the inhalers don’t necessarily have to stay out of the classroom or the schoolyard.
“A child of sufficient maturity is permitted to carry an inhaler with written authorization from the parent/guardian,” the board says.
At the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, spokesperson John Shewchuk says there isn’t a set policy applied across the region.
“That’s generally dealt with at the school between principals and parents,” he says.
“What works best for the child is what’s going to be put into place. If a student needs to have the puffer or inhaler with them at all times because of an onset of asthma that might come at any second, that’s going to be what’s most appropriate for that student.”
The Ontario Lung Association estimates that there are 1.9 million Ontarians with asthma, including 500,000 children.
With files from The Canadian Press