For parents with a child living with diabetes, back to school time can be stressful because it means handing responsibility for the child’s diabetes management to school staff. However, this time need not be so stressful for parents. There are a number of ways that parents can help to assure their child’s safety at school.
The most important step is to gather the necessary information needed by the school staff for them to properly manage the child’s individual diabetes needs. The American Diabetes Association offers a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) document to be filled out by the student’s personal diabetes healthcare team, which includes parents. The plan would be given to relevant school personnel, such as the school nurse, to review and keep in their records.
Parents will need to prepare a care package that includes diabetes management supplies. Among the supplies should be a blood glucose meter, testing strips, lancets, and extra batteries for the meter; ketone testing supplies; insulin and syringes/pens; antiseptic wipes; glucose tablets or glucose snack; water; and for those with a pump, backup insulin and syringes/pens in case of the pump’s failure.
It is also critical for the child to wear medical alert jewelry, such as a children’s medical ID bracelet, in case an emergency occurs when school staff are not present, such as on the way to school. Parents can supplement this information with a USB medical flash drive, which can be attached to a backpack.
Parents should make sure that their child is educated in managing their diabetes, as appropriate to their age. The child should understand the plan that has been worked out with the school, such as where and when to go for testing, if a trained employee will be doing this.
A child with diabetes should be encouraged to eat healthy food and know what foods to avoid. Parents can include healthy snacks to eat later in the day to keep blood sugar stable. Many schools post menus online. Parents can review the school menu with their child and decide together what good food choices would be.
In summary, parents should have a Diabetes Medical Management Plan in place and the necessary supplies gathered. This, combined with education on diabetes management and nutrition and outfitting their child with a medical bracelet and USB medical flash drive can help diminish parents’ worries over sending their diabetic child back to school.