Wednesday 7 September 2011

Diabetes at School - Does it Get Any Weirder Than This?

First full day back at school today and I have mixed feelings, as it set to be an unusual start this year. Public school teachers in the province of British Columbia are currently in Phase 1 of a strike (the reasons for which are beyond the purpose of my blog). What is a Phase 1 Job Action you may ask? A bit confusing to explain, but basically teachers are not currently performing administrative duties; they are focussing solely on classroom teaching.

Now for most kids, this is no big deal, as it will likely not affect them at all. Even most parents will be unaffected by this change, unless it continues for a while, in which case report cards and parent-teacher meetings could be affected. But we will cross that bridge when and if it comes.

For a child with diabetes, the implications are a little bit more severe. At the beginning of each year, the classroom teacher, a member of the administration, and myself sit down and make sure that we have the best "medical care plan" in place for Dylan (in the US, this would be known as the "504 plan"). The medical care plan is a very effective 3-way partnership between teacher, parent, and administration. So how can that relationship be successful when teachers and administration are not communicating? Dylan is in grade 6, so he does provide the majority of his own care, but we rely on his teacher to keep an eye on him and watch for signs of high or low blood sugars, and the administration to oversee his care, ensure that he tests regularly, record the tests results, and notify me if and when there is a problem. Does this mean the Dylan has to step up and liaise between the 2 groups? Perhaps, but he is a child after all, not to mention the fact that his focus should be on his school work.

The logical conclusion would be that the onus falls on me to step up, as the "parent." As his mom I can speak with both parties and attempt to keep his diabetes care as thorough and stable as possible during this unusual time. Ok, but now let me throw in one more obstacle: I am public school teacher and a member of the same union as the teachers in his school. I am essentially part of the same job action. Where is the line between parent and teacher for me, and at what point am I "crossing the picket line" so to speak (teachers are not physically picketing, but the invisible line is still there)? I find myself in a bit of a conundrum as I am forced to address my personal beliefs about teaching and labor unions, while ensuring that my diabetic son continues to get the best care possible.

Let's hope, for everyone involved, that this labour dispute is resolved quickly and in the best interest of all parties involved. Until then, what?

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