Diabetes Management Requires Special Attention at School

For students with diabetes, there is more on their daily school planner besides when to go to math, history and science.

Students with diabetes have to be able to manage their diabetes properly and need to have a good support network of teachers, staff, nurses, coaches and others in their daily school life.

All students should have a Diabetes Medical Management Plan, said Beckie Crisman, a nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator at Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. “This plan would be developed with the student, their parents and the medical provider for the child,” she said. “It gives direction to the school staff or school nursing staff as to what needs to be done to help the student manage diabetes safely while at school.”

The plan details what to do in an emergency, insulin dosage information, how to administer insulin, how to check blood sugar what to do with the results, and more. “All students with diabetes should have a medical plan in place,” said Crisman.

It is also important that students bring, and have access to, supplies to manage their diabetes such as insulin, blood sugar testing supplies and extra snacks for low blood sugar. Also, a glucagon emergency kit should be on hand at school, and a nurse or staff should know how to use it if the student experiences a low blood sugar emergency.

Communication with school staff is important, said Crisman. In addition to a diabetes management plan, students need to know who to go to when it is time for testing or administering insulin. Not all districts are the same and not all have a nurse on staff to help students. Talk to your school about their services.

Parents can help their students succeed with managing their diabetes at school by planning ahead for meals, snacks, and activity, said Crisman. “Talk to the child about good choices for lunch and snacks, and decide what insulin dose(s) will be needed for the food consumed. Look ahead at the hot lunch menu or plan the cold lunch menu together. Talk with the teacher about snacks or birthday treats that may be provided to the student during the school day. Also discuss any issues or needs that may come up during bus transportation to or from school or on field trips.”

Participation in physical activity or sports is safe for students with diabetes and healthy as well. Having diabetes should not prevent a student from participating. In general, physical activity will lower blood sugar. Pre-planning is important so teachers and coaches know when the student should test blood sugar, when and if the student should have an additional snack, and also know how to treat a low blood sugar. Students should always have access to a fast acting carbohydrate source.

A student with diabetes has to make many daily adjustments but that should not exclude them from living a normal life, said Crisman. It is important for the families to be working with all members of their diabetes management team, and school personnel, to determine the best plan for the student. This plan needs to grow as the child grows, so it really needs to be reviewed at least annually. Diabetes Educators can really help the family understand all aspects of the plan and help coordinate the communication needed for it to be effective. “No child should be discriminated,” said Crisman. “They should be able to participate in all school activities. That’s why you want a plan in place. The more normal the student’s school day can be, the less impactful on the child’s life this disease is.”