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Back to School Tips for Managing Diabetes

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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
A nurse shows a diabetic child how to test his blood

When fall arrives, it’s back-to-school time. And for some, it’s back to managing diabetes in the classroom. To help in this transition, we’ve included some tips to help your child stay safe and healthy at school.

Make a Diabetes Management Plan

A diabetes management plan is an individualized treatment plan put together by you and your child’s healthcare team. The document should include: important contact names & phone numbers, instructions for checking glucose levels (either with a meter or a continuous glucose monitor), current medication information and the level of assistance your child needs when providing this care.

The plan should also include when to contact parents and/or seek emergency assistance, and guidance on meals and physical activity. Once the document is ready, it can be provided to the school along with the supplies needed to care for your child:

  • Glucose and ketone testing supplies. Always have a back-up blood glucose meter and strips, even if your child uses a continuous glucose monitor.
  • Insulin pens or vials, pen needles or syringes. Your school needs the proper supplies to follow the care plan’s insulin dosing specifics.
  • Continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump supplies. These are needed in case your child’s pump site/pod or continuous glucose monitor needs to be replaced during school. Some school nurses can help change or supervise changing pump sites. Others will ask that a parent/guardian come to do the pump or continuous glucose monitor change. It is a good idea to discuss this ahead of time. Having a back-up insulin pen at school is important for “off pump needs”.
  • Treatments for low glucose. Include glucose tablets and glucose gel, snacks, and emergency treatment for severe low glucose (such as a glucagon emergency kit or the nose spray, Baqsimi).

Clearly label all medicine and supplies with your child's name, including instructions. Check periodically to see if new supplies are needed and update the treatment plan if your child’s care changes during the year.

Meet with School Staff

It is often best to ask for a meeting with the school nurse to discuss your child’s diabetes care plan at the beginning of each school year. If the school staff is not familiar with diabetes, request that the nurse gives an educational overview for key employees. This may include administrators, teachers, and support staff, such as school bus drivers, recess monitors, aides and after-school coaches.

Throughout the school year, schedule regular check-ins with your child's teacher and school nurse discuss how things are going. Depending on your child's age and the classroom atmosphere, your child may want their classmates to be taught about diabetes. This can be done by the school nurse or teacher, or your child may want to help share with the class, depending on their readiness and ability.

Equip Your Child for Low Glucose

Your child should always carry a fast-acting source of glucose (such as juice or glucose tablets) to treat low blood glucoses. Make sure that they know how and when to use it. If your child is young, instruct the school personnel on recognizing their signs & symptoms of low glucose, or hypoglycemia.

Be sure that the school has current emergency contact information for you and at least 2 others as backup contacts should you be unavailable. A medical alert ID can also help make sure your child gets correct treatment in an emergency.

Be a Positive Voice for Your Child

Your child has a right to learn in a manner that supports their diabetes care and allows them to participate in school activities. Supporting your child at school is associated with better overall health and diabetes control, which supports their success in school.

Local parent support groups and the American Diabetes Association can refer you to resources that protect your child's rights in the school system. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act may be able to give more support for your child's health and educational needs.

Related Links

The Diabetes Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s can support your child so they live well with diabetes at home and at school. We work with you to update your school with treatment information, address questions and provide helpful resources.

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