Managing Diabetes in the Classroom; A Guideline for Educators
According to the American Diabetes Association, about one in 400 children and adolescents have diabetes. That number is also increasing with the rise in childhood obesity, leading to an increase in Type 2 diabetes.
- Why is it important for educators to help students manage their diabetes?
Educators are with students the majority of the day. Therefore, they need to be able to assist students with their diabetes management to help them maintain healthy lives.
Many children may know how to care for their diabetes; however it is crucial that there is adult supervision. For the educator this entails assisting with insulin injections, blood glucose testing and carbohydrate counting as well as choosing healthy food choices.
For those students that are able to check their own blood glucose and give their own injections, remember that they are still children and an adult must verify that the test was actually done and that the injection was given.
- What are some practical tips for educators to help their students manage diabetes?
Be aware of low and high blood sugar signs and symptoms. For low blood sugar treatment, juice or glucose tabs are used followed by a snack. This must be readily available to the educator in all classrooms that the student is attending.
If a student falls asleep in class it may be due to a high or low blood glucose level, so make sure that they test their blood glucose if this happens. Allow students unlimited access to water and bathrooms. Educators should be trained in carbohydrate counting, healthy diet, insulin injection technique and blood glucose monitoring.
Also, familiarize yourself with a student’s snack schedule. Another helpful tip would be having a list of the foods in the cafeteria with nutrition facts available, so that the educator/student will be able to count carbohydrates more effectively.
The food service company that the school uses will be able to provide a menu with the carbohydrates listed. In addition, extra time (even a few minutes) should be provided before lunch and gym class for students to come to the office for diabetes care.
- What are the different guidelines/ tips for students who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes?
The primary focus of diabetes care is maintaining good blood glucose control which will allow students to feel their best and reduce their risk for complications in the future. Healthy eating is emphasized in both groups.
Many children/teens with type 1 have different insulin regimens. Counting carbohydrates is necessary no matter what regimen they are on and test at least 4 times per day.
With type 2 diabetes, they may or may not have an insulin regimen; they may be testing 2 to 4 times per day, and they may or may not be on oral medications for diabetes.
Below are blood glucose guidelines. A1C is the average blood sugar over the past 2-3 months expressed as a percentage.
DM type 1
Target Blood Sugar
DM type 2
Sarah Yandall, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Department of Endocrinology at DMC Children’sHospitalofMichiganprovides the following Q and A to help manage diabetes in the classroom.