Amanda Vasquez, clinical social worker at the USF Diabetes Center, offers the following suggestions for parents to help their kids with diabetes at school:
• Set up a meeting with the school to discuss your child’s diabetes care needs. Sit down with your child’s teachers, administrators and/or other personnel to review his or her diabetes medical management plan. If your child is old enough involve him or her in this planning process. Describe common symptoms and talk with school personnel about the effects of food, insulin and physical activity on diabetes and the consequences of blood sugar levels that are too high or too low. Most school staff will be receptive to accommodating your child’s needs if they understand diabetes and you discuss your concerns with them.
• Determine who will assist with your child’s diabetes care in class and at school-sponsored extracurricular activities. By law, schools are required to make sure a nurse or other trained staff member is available to provide routine care for students who cannot yet manage diabetes on their own or emergency care for any child with diabetes. The designated staff member(s) should be trained in helping a student take medications, administer insulin and monitor blood sugar readings. They should know how to treat both low and high blood sugar. A back-up provider should be designated in case the primary caregiver is unavailable.
• Develop a sign or symbol that your child can use to alert the teacher to an episode of low blood sugar. If blood sugar drops too low, a student may lose consciousness or experience seizures. Teachers who notice low blood sugar symptoms should notify the school nurse. The student should never leave the classroom alone or with another student. He or she should always be accompanied by the school nurse or trained personnel.
• Provide the school all necessary diabetes supplies. Your child should have ready access to supplies needed to manage diabetes be able to test blood sugar anywhere on campus. In addition to school nurses, the following items should be available to teachers, administrative staff, lunchroom personnel and coaches:
– Blood glucose meter, lancets, test strips, ketone strips
– Insulin and syringes/pens, including backups of these items for children who wear insulin pumps.
– Pump supplies (insulin cartridge, batteries, infusion sets, needles, alcohol wipes), if applicable
– Glucagon emergency kit to counteract severe low blood sugar
– Glucose tablets or gel, juice or other fast-acting glucose snack
It may be a good idea to put together a special kit for school use during sporting events, field trips, fire drills, or other activities outside the classroom
In summary, Vasquez says: “The best way to ensure that your child is safe and that his or her diabetes care plan is being met is to maintain open communication with the school nurse, teacher, and the designated staff trained to meet your child’s medical needs while they are at school.”
– USF Health-
USF Health is dedicated to creating a model of health care based on understanding the full spectrum of health. It includes the University of South Florida’s colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. Ranked 34th in federal research expenditures for public universities by the National Science Foundation, the University of South Florida is a high impact global research university dedicated to student success.