Dear Diabetes Advocate,
As someone who understands diabetes, you know that this chronic disease must be managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You also know that children who are too young or inexperienced to self-manage their disease need an adult present at their school who is trained to provide diabetes care, and that all children with diabetes need to have such an adult around in the case of a diabetes emergency. This needs to happen at all school and school-related activities if students with diabetes are to be safe and to have the same educational opportunities as their peers.
In some schools this care simply isn't happening. That isn't acceptable and we need your help to fix it.
The Association has long been involved in working to end discrimination that students with diabetes face and to educate school personnel about the importance of diabetes management. We will continue to do so. However, we are concerned about recent events and the impact they may have on our students' health.
When the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) passed a resolution in July opposing training of, or diabetes care by, school staff members who aren't nurses, it took a step away from making students with diabetes safe at school. In addition, in the literature AFT is distributing, that organization urges teachers and other non-medical staff not to provide diabetes care even in an emergency and even if the staff member has been trained by a diabetes expert.
This isn't safe.
Most schools don't have a full time nurse. Even in those that do, the nurse isn't available at all times such as field trips and extra curricular activities. Diabetes health care professionals agree that the best - the safest - course of action is to train non-medical school personnel to provide diabetes care when a school nurse isn't present.
The American Diabetes Association is concerned that AFT's action will both stand in the way of improving diabetes care in schools where it is currently inadequate and may have a serious negative impact on existing agreements between parents and schools that provide assistance to students with diabetes. Specifically, we are concerned that some non-medical school personnel who have been trained to help will pull back from providing this essential care.
The Association launched the Safe at School campaign to ensure that no ground is lost in the battle to keep students with diabetes safe at school.