Diabetes in Schools
Diabetes (type 1 or type 2) affects about 208,000 (0.25%) of all people younger than 20 years in the United States. According to estimates for 2008 – 2009, about 23,500 persons in this age group were newly diagnosed with diabetes annually. 1
Ensuring that students with diabetes have the health services they need in school to manage their chronic condition is important in helping them stay healthy and ready to learn. Managing diabetes at school is most effective when there is a partnership among students, parents, school nurse, health care providers, teachers, counselors, coaches, transportation, food service employees, and administrators. Support may include helping a student take medications, check blood sugar levels, choose healthy foods in the cafeteria, and be physically active.
Diabetes doesn’t have to get in the way of a good experience at school. Remember, parents and schools have the same goal: to ensure that students with diabetes are safe and that they’re able to learn in a supportive environment. Schools should:
- Develop a plan to help students care for diabetes and handle any diabetes-related emergencies.
- Work with a child’s parents, doctor and school staff to create a Diabetes Medical Management Plan including information on services the school will provide and how to recognize high and low blood sugar levels. For more information, visit Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School PersonnelExternal.
- Ensure all physician and emergency contacts are updated and provided to school staff.
- Be sure school workers have a glucagon emergency kit and know how to use it if a student experiences a low blood sugar emergency. School staff should be given the National Diabetes Education Program School Guide hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia emergency care plansExternal [PDF -340 KB].
- If a child is going to monitor his or her blood sugar, ensure that he or she feels comfortable doing so.
- If a trained school employee will do the monitoring, be sure the student knows where and when to go for testing.
- Encourage students to eat healthy foods, including a healthy breakfast, which will help students stay focused and active. Students and parents should look at the school menus together to help them make choices for a healthy meal plan.
- Having diabetes doesn’t mean that a child can’t be physically active or participate in physical education classes. They should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. In fact, being active can help a child improve his or her blood sugar control.
- Check that students with diabetes have all recommended vaccinations(http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html), including the flu shot(http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/living/flu/index.html). If a child with diabetes gets sick, he or she can take longer to recover than children without diabetes. Talk to the student’s parents to make sure their child has all the vaccinations they need before starting the school year.
- Encourage students to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
- CDC, Division of Diabetes Translation
- National Diabetes Education Program, Diabetes Resources for Schools and YouthExternal
- Eagle Books for Your Children from CDC’s Native Diabetes Wellness Program
- American Diabetes Association, Safe at SchoolExternal
- National Association of School Nurses, Diabetes Management in the School SettingExternal
- JDRF, Type 1 Diabetes in SchoolExternal
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National diabetes statistics report: estimates of diabetes and its burden in the United States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.