Back to School with Diabetes
When fall arrives, it’s back-to-school time—and for some kids, it’s back to dealing with diabetes in the classroom. These tips can help your student stay safe and healthy at school:
Make a diabetes medical management plan. This is a written document prepared by you and your child’s healthcare team. It spells out his or her treatment plan. It should include emergency contacts and instructions for monitoring blood glucose and measuring insulin doses. Also information on taking pills, eating meals, participating in exercise, and checking for ketones should be part of the treatment plan. It should also explain exactly what to do in case of low or high blood glucose. Make sure the school has a copy of this plan, testing supplies for blood sugar and urinary ketones, and a glucagon emergency kit. The school may also need to develop its own internal plan that is based on your healthcare team's recommendations. All medicine and supplies should be clearly labeled with your child's name as well as instructions.
Meet with school personnel. Review your child’s individual needs and make sure that he or she is able to follow the medical management plan at school. Ask that the school nurse attend the meeting. If school personnel are not familiar with diabetes, ask that the nurse do an inservice for all employees. This includes administrators, teachers, and support staff. Discuss the possibility of an individualized education plan, or IEP, for your child. Make sure you understand your school's policies and emergency procedures related to diabetes.
Have your child wear a medical alert ID at all times. Also make sure your child always carries a fast-acting source of glucose and knows how to use it. If your child is too young, make sure school personnel are educated to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia. They also must be able to give appropriate intervention when needed. Make sure the school has emergency contact information for you and at least two other backup contacts if you are not available.
Be a positive advocate for your child. Local parent support groups through organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association, can refer you to resources that protect your child's rights in the school system. Depending on the severity of the diabetes, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act may be able to give additional support for your child's medical and educational needs.