You may have a young child who is not old enough to manage his or her own diabetes care. Or you may have an older child who still needs some guidance. Either way, you want to feel that your child is safe at school and make sure that your child is not treated differently because he has diabetes. Following these guidelines will help your child have a safe and healthy year at school.
Teach those who will be working with your child at school about diabetes. Call the school nurse, teacher, or principal to discuss the best way to inform everyone who needs to know, including teachers, the school nurse, bus driver, gym teacher, lunchroom workers, and others involved with your child at school. Sometimes the school nurse or the teacher will help educate others. It’s usually best to do this in the week before classes start.
You can get training materials about diabetes care for the nurse, teachers, and others who will be working with your child. A video can be a good starting place to learn how to handle low blood sugar, which might happen while your child is at school.
It’s important NOT to leave it up to your child to educate school staff. Your child may be self-conscious or embarrassed and not get the job done.
Most states now require a school health plan and emergency response plan. A school health plan is a form that spells out when and where your child needs to have food, medicine, or tests done. The emergency response plan outlines what to do in case of an emergency.
Make sure your child knows who will help with testing, shots, and treatment of high or low blood sugar at school.
Keep a supply of snacks and equipment needed for blood sugar testing at school. You should give these supplies to the school:
Tape a set of instructions and your phone numbers to the box of snacks as well as to the glucose meter. Make sure that you replace supplies that get used.
Your child's blood sugar levels may need to be checked before and after eating snacks and meals, with physical activity, or when there are symptoms of high or low blood sugar. Each time a blood test is done, the result, day, and time should be recorded on a record sheet or in a logbook.
It’s best if your child is allowed to do blood tests in the classroom. If your child is testing himself in the classroom, an adult may need to check the result. If your child must go to the school nurse for testing, another person should always go along. If your child's blood sugar is low, the low blood sugar may make him confused and he may not make it to the office alone. If your child doesn’t wash his hands before the test, a trace of sugar on the finger can cause a high reading. Often children carry a meter in their backpack. A meter can also be stored in the nurse's office or with a teacher. A glucose meter should NOT be kept in your child's locker because it’s hard to reach in an emergency.
If your child needs to be given insulin at school, you and your child's healthcare provider must sign a school medication form. It must specifically say when the insulin is to be given and the dosage. Ask your healthcare provider about using insulin pens at school. They are very convenient, more accurate, and leave less room for error when drawing up the dose at school.
The school nurse or another trained person should always be able to give or supervise the shot. Your child may be able to give his own shot. If your child is drawing up the insulin and giving himself the shot, it’s a good idea to have an adult check the amount. You may need to come in and give the injection.
If your child is using an insulin pump, the school staff needs to learn how to connect and disconnect the pump. Your child may need to disconnect the pump during gym or recess. There must be a safe place to keep the pump when it is disconnected. Your child may need help remembering to give himself a bolus dose, particularly at lunch. Let the school staff know how to calculate the bolus dose and any other important pump operating instructions.
Your child may need to check ketones at school if:
You should be notified if a urine or blood ketone test is moderate or high. Your child will need extra insulin and need to be treated by adults who can provide constant supervision, usually at home.
For resources to help teach school staff, see: