It’s that time of year again, back-to-school season. For parents of children with diabetes, that means making sure (again) that the school knows exactly what your child does and does not need help with. With luck, you and the school nurse will see eye-to-eye about your kiddo’s diabetes, which can considerably alleviate the stress involved with packing them off to class every morning.
Maybe it’s the first time you’ve done this, or maybe you’re an old pro. Either way, we’ve come up with a checklist of topics you may want to cover.
Your Checklist for Meeting With the School Nurse
Bring a copy of your Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) from last year and be ready to make changes. If you don’t have one, it’s time to make a new personalized plan for your child from scratch. This plan will help define how the school treats your child, and will be important not just for medical staff but for teachers, coaches, and administration.
Do you have a 504 form yet? In the United States, these documents guarantee that the school will make whatever accommodations your child needs so that they get the same opportunities as other students. This is where you get to document that your child can always have candy on hand, for example, or that they can test their blood sugar at their desk without asking.
Explain to the nurse exactly how much independence your child has when it comes to managing their diabetes, so that there isn’t any confusion about who is responsible for what. Can they administer their own insulin before meals? Can they give themselves correction boluses?
Discuss what the protocol will be when your child’s blood sugar is low or high while at school.
Provide diabetes supplies, extra test strips, snacks, glucose tablets, etc., that you want the school to keep available for your child.
Ask the nurse to notify you when any of your child’s diabetes supplies run low so you can refill in time.
Be sure to let the nurse know the way your child describes highs and lows, especially if they’re very young.
Explain that your child’s diabetes is unique when compared to diabetes in others.
Make sure the nurse understands the seriousness of high and low blood sugar and that very low blood sugar is an emergency that cannot be put off a single minute.
Ask the nurse to please stay in communication with the teachers and other administrators involved in the care of your child. Teamwork among staff is key.
The school nurse isn’t always present or available. Who is the backup that is empowered to act in case of emergency? Should you bring them into this conversation?
Let the nurse know, if needed, that the school is responsible for training the school staff, so if they feel they need additional training, they can request it from the school.
Ask the nurse to please inform all school staff and even bus drivers that your child has diabetes and make sure they know who to contact and what to do in an emergency.
Make sure the nurse knows how to administer glucagon rescue medication in the case of an emergency.
If needed, train the nurse on how to use your child’s insulin pump, blood sugar meter, and/or continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
If your child uses a CGM, ask the nurse if they have the ability to receive remote blood sugar alarms.
Does your kiddo play a sport? Athletics create a special challenge for blood sugar management, and may occur after school, after the nurse has left the building. Make sure that the PE teachers and coaches will understand exactly what your child needs to thrive.
Let’s talk about nutrition — will your child be eating lunch at the cafeteria? Can you request any special attention around meals? Do the teachers know that your kid shouldn’t just chow down on a surprise birthday cookie or cupcake without warning?
Don’t forget to involve your child! Ask them if there is anything they’d like you to convey to the nurse.
Make sure you give the nurse all relevant contact information such as phone numbers, names, and extensions.
Let the nurse know that if they have any questions or doubts or concerns, to please do not hesitate to contact you.
Don’t forget to show appreciation for what the nurse is taking on — the special job of helping to care for your child!