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Most students can manage their diabetes on their own, but some will need help. A child's parents or guardians are responsible for making sure that school staff is willing and able to help the child with his or her diabetes care. A diabetes care plan will help your child's teachers and other school staff know when and how to help manage your child's diabetes. For example, if your child needs to eat shortly after taking insulin or to have a snack in class, a care plan will help a teacher or other adult make sure that this happens.
At the same time, the teacher will know not to make your child stand out as "the kid with diabetes." Your child may also feel better knowing that his or her teachers or other school staff can help when needed.
It's a good idea to meet with school staff before your child starts school and at the beginning of each school year. Update the plan each year before school starts, and tell the school staff about any changes to the care plan during the school year.
- The goal of a diabetes care plan for school is to help meet your child's daily needs and prepare ahead of time for any problems. This means including information that the school staff needs to know to make sure your child's diabetes is under control.
- A diabetes care plan for school should include medical information as well as other information that the school staff needs to know, including emergency contacts, when to call the parents or guardians, and food information.
- Children with diabetes want to fit in with their classmates as much as possible. A diabetes care plan can also address how to handle special occasions, such as a school party or field trip, so your child won't feel left out.
How do you make a diabetes care plan for school?
A diabetes care plan includes information that the school staff needs to know to make sure your child's diabetes is under control. Your province may have a care plan template that you can use. If not, you can find one at www.diabetesatschool.ca/tools/individual-care-plan.
Check with your school or province about which of these tasks require signed consent, a mutual agreement, or training provided by you.
You must give the staff everything they need to care for your child, including supplies to do a blood sugar test, insulin, syringes, glucagon (if it's in the care plan), and supplies for testing for ketones. And you need to teach the staff how to use these items. Remind the staff that your child needs access to the supplies at all times, even on a field trip. Now and then, check the expiration dates of supplies your child has at school.
Be specific about which tasks your child can do on their own and which ones an adult must do. Here are some examples of information to include in your child's care plan:
- Insulin, if needed. Include information on how to give insulin to your child, how much to give, and how to store it. Your child may get it as a shot, use an insulin pen, or have an insulin pump.
- Other medicine. If your child takes other medicine for diabetes, include instructions on how and when to give the medicine, how much to give, and how to store it.
Meals and snacks.
- Provide school staff with snacks for your child as needed.
- Make sure your child's teacher and the school staff know your child has permission to eat a snack anytime he or she needs it.
- Make a list of foods your child can eat, how much, and when. Also list foods your child can have for special occasions, such as a class party or a field trip. Include information about insulin, if needed, for special-occasion foods.
- Blood sugar testing. Work with school staff to create a testing schedule. For example, your child may need his or her blood sugar tested before lunch and when he or she has symptoms of low blood sugar.
Symptoms of low blood sugar. Describe your child's symptoms and how to treat them.
- Give the staff copies of Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar and Diabetes in Children: Treating Low Blood Sugar.
- Provide school staff with glucose tablets or quick-sugar foods, such as hard candy or fruit juice, to give your child when he or she has signs of low blood sugar.
- Make sure school staff know to never leave your child alone after treatment for low blood sugar.
- Symptoms of high blood sugar. Describe your child's symptoms and how to treat them.
- Testing ketones. Specify when and how to test your child for ketones and what to do if ketones are present.
- Physical activity and sports. Include information about when your child's blood sugar should be checked before activity and the desired target range. Specify how many glucose tablets or how much quick-sugar food to have on hand for your child.
- Who to call. Include contact information for parent(s) or guardians(s), other caregivers, and your child's doctor. You will also want to let school staff know when to call 911.
The care plan should state that your child is allowed to:
- Use the washroom, eat, and drink when needed.
- Call a parent, guardian, or caregiver whenever he or she asks.
- Miss school for medical appointments.
Include the best way to communicate with you about your child's health. Daily or weekly phone calls, emails, or a journal entries can be used to track how things are going at school.
Be sure to specify that you expect the school to provide a private place to take care of your child's diabetes needs.
Other Works Consulted
- Diabetes Canada (2018). Guidelines for the care of students living with diabetes at school. Diabetes Canada. http://www.diabetes.ca/getmedia/2e763d84-1660-4d4e-8a32-a8d4d99c5f2b/Diabetes_Canada_KWDIS_Guidelines.pdf.aspx. Accessed June 20, 2018.
- Diabetes Canada (2018). Kids living with diabetes at school. Diabetes Canada. http://www.diabetes.ca/getmedia/0d47b56d-1ee8-4548-861e-763163f27013/Diabetes_Canada_KWDIS_position_statement.pdf.aspx. Accessed June 20, 2018.
- Lawrence SE, et al. (2015). Managing type 1 diabetes in school: Recommendations for policy and practice. Paediatrics and Child Health, 20(1): 35–39. https://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/type-1-diabetes-in-school. Accessed September 25, 2018.