Are Your Kids Safe at School?
About 215,000 school-aged children and adolescents have diabetes and the numbers keep increasing each year with more new cases of diabetes being diagnosed in young people. Diabetes is a serious chronic disease that must be managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In a supportive environment, where school personnel understand the needs of students with diabetes and can respond appropriately in emergency situations, young people can manage their diabetes effectively.
Unfortunately, with school budgets being cut every time we turn around, nurses’ presence seem to be viewed as a luxury rather than a necessity in schools. More and more school nurses must cover more than one campus, working rotations. What does this mean for a child with diabetes? A lot less medical care.
Many stories are currently being shared about the role of schools and teachers in a diabetic child’s life. A parent cannot be around 24/7 at school to care for their child’s condition. Therefore the school nurse and teachers become the primary caregiver during school hours. Unfortunately, teachers lack training and education on diabetes, leaving them unable to assist students.
We spoke with DxONE creator, Dan Masucci, who was all too familiar with the struggles parents of children with type 1 diabetes face. He, like many other D-parents, has had to drop everything and rush to school to care for his T1 son, Nick, when the nurse is absent. Dan also worries about his son during school lockdowns. “Nick only carries one vial of insulin in his backpack, the rest is kept in a fridge in the nurses office. Sometimes these lockdowns last for multiple hours, and the kids are not allowed to leave wherever they are when the lockdown commences,” Dan says. He worries about what Nick would do if he were to run out of insulin.
Without the guarantee of medical staff, it is imperative that parents encourage their children to take an active role in their diabetes management and be prepared for emergencies. Here are some steps your child can take to make this process easier:
- Find out who is on the school health team. Know how to contact them if you need help.
- Always wear a medical alert ID. Keep a Diabetes ID Card in your backpack or book bag. Order a FREE one here.
- Always carry a quick-acting source of glucose as recommended by your health care team.
- Tell your teacher if you feel symptoms of low or high blood glucose, especially if you need help.
- Carry your diabetes equipment and supplies with you at all times. ClimaPak is a great way to store insulin safely at school. It will fit in any backpack and the charge lasts for 3-5 days. Click here for more information.
- Take charge of your diabetes care at school, as allowed in your health care and education plans. You may be responsible for these diabetes care tasks:
- Checking and writing down blood glucose levels.
- Figuring out the correct insulin dose you need.
- Giving yourself insulin.
- Discarding your syringes and lancets in a proper container or taking them home with you according to your written care plans.
- Throwing away needles, lancets, and other supplies you have used in a safe place.
- Eating meals and snacks as planned.
- Figuring out the carbohydrate (carb) content of food.
- Treating low blood glucose with a quick-acting glucose product.
The American Diabetes Association is calling for an increase in diabetes education to all educators and school employees. Parents should not have to leave their jobs multiple times a week to ensure that their children are getting the proper medical care at school.
As children go back to school, it’s important to have a checklist in case of emergencies at school. Here is the American Diabetes Association’s “Back-to-School-Checklist” for parents.
As the number of students diagnosed with diabetes increases each year, school personnel, parents, and students face unique challenges. Collaboration and coordination are essential to ensure a safe learning environment and equal access to educational opportunities for students with diabetes.
To help meet these challenges, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has released an updated version of Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel. Developed with and supported by leading diabetes, pediatric medicine, health care professional, and education groups, the School Guide:
- Provides school personnel, parents, and students with a coordinated team approach for helping students manage their diabetes effectively in the school setting
- Contains user-friendly tools, copier-ready action plans, a diabetes primer and glossary, and a review of school responsibilities under federal laws
The guide contains new and revised information on:
- Strategies for effective diabetes management for children and adolescents with type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- Stages of child development and students’ corresponding abilities to perform diabetes care tasks
- Diabetes management training for school personnel using a three-tiered approach
- Commonly used diabetes supplies for blood glucose monitoring and administering insulin
- Step-by-step instructions for carb counting and computing insulin doses
This FREE resource can be ordered or downloaded by visiting www.YourDiabetesInfo.org/media/Youth_NDEPSchoolGuide.pdf or calling 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337).