Parents of children with diabetes need to plan how their child's condition will be managed while at school, experts say.
"Diabetes is a disease that must be managed 24/7. Failure to do so can result in serious short- and long-term medical complications," Linda Siminerio, a certified diabetes educator and co-chair of the American Diabetes Association Safe at School Working Group, said in an association news release.
"It's therefore imperative that every student with diabetes has a plan in place to meet their diabetes needs at school as well as off-site, during outings and at all school-sponsored activities," she said.
Before school starts, parents need to write and update diabetes care plans, meet with the school nurse and other school staff who will provide care, make sure the school has ample supplies, Siminerio said.
The goal of the Safe at School campaign is to make sure that all children with diabetes have access to proper diabetes care during the school day and at all school-sponsored activities, she added.
Watch: Teach your kids about diabetes with this fun cartoon!
Currently, 30 states have laws that ensure children with diabetes have access to proper care at school, and a number of other states are considering this type of legislation. More than 208,000 American children under the age of 20 have diabetes.
In South Africa, it is estimated that around 2.6 million of the 6.5 million diabetics in the country are diagnosed during childhood, making it quite likely that teachers will have a diabetic student in their class, Sweet Life Magazine writes. Whilst the South African Children's Act of 2008 does entitle children with chronic conditions such as diabetes to a certain level of care as needed it does not have specific requirements for schools with diabetic learners as is the case in the U.S.
"Having a full-time school nurse is a great start, but what we're really talking about here is having other school staff trained to provide needed care, because even a full-time school nurse can't be everywhere at all times," Siminerio said.
Jane Kadohiro, a certified diabetes educator and nurse who led the effort to pass Safe at School legislation in Hawaii, agreed. "Teachers and other volunteers can be trained to do a fine job, especially if parents and diabetes educators are available for consultation during the training process," she said in the news release. "Teaching a teacher or a volunteer is no different than teaching parents how to maintain diabetes control for their children."
Older children may be able to self-manage their diabetes, but sometimes state laws or policies place barriers to them providing their own care, Siminerio explained, adding that there's a need to change such laws and policies.
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Image: Painting at school from Shutterstock