Monday 12 December 2011

Insulin at School: Whose Responsibility Is It? Part 1

My original idea with this post was to present the issue and then provide my own opinion about it. However, the more I examined my own thoughts about it, both as a parent and as a teacher, the more conflicted I became, and the longer this post got. So, I've decided to break it into two parts: issue today and opinion tomorrow. That being said, I would really welcome the opinions of others, particularly those outside of BC, who could shed some light on how insulin is administered in schools where you live.

According to an advocacy group in British Columbia, school staff should be trained to administer insulin, and life-saving glucagon injections, to diabetic students. The group, entitled "Unsafe at School: Advocating for Children with Type 1 Diabetes" is made up of BC parents and a number of physicians. It was formed after a North Vancouver father filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal earlier this year. They have started a petition calling on government for change and almost 400 people have signed it thus far.

Currently there is no mandated care plan for children with Type 1 Diabetes in BC. School staff are not responsible for checking blood glucose levels, injecting insulin, managing pump boluses, or administering glucagon in an emergency. Each child, and each school is unique, so the level of support varies considerably but essentially the onus of responsibility falls on the parents, who, in some cases, have to visit their child's school at least once per day to administer insulin via pump or syringe.

The advocacy group believes that until this changes, diabetic children are not being adequately cared for at school and are being discriminated against because of their diabetes. They add that when a child with diabetes experiences high or low blood sugar their learning is compromised, and therefore should be treated similarly to a learning disabled child in the classroom. The Education Ministry is currently reviewing the situation.

To find out more about the advocacy group, or to join their efforts and sign the petition, visit their "Advocating for T1 Kids" page on Facebook. And to read the Vancouver Sun article that ran December 9th, click here.


  1. I too feel conflicting emotions about this issue. I'd be interested in reading your thoughts though, since you have a couple of valid perspectives being a Mom of a CWD and a teacher. I was hoping you would share your own views in this post. :)

  2. I don't like this. At my school we had a medical room that we could go to do our injections and blood sugars if we needed to. The room was optional but we could do the injections anywhere suitable.

    Teachers and student services would always check if we were ok, and allowed fellow pupils / staff who were fully up-to-date to inject glucagon, check sugars, and provide sugary drinks when required.

  3. My short notes on this topic because I could go on and on :)

    I believe no matter the situation the moment you drop your child off at school that school becomes responsible for their safety and well being. I don't think that should change if your child has diabetes.

    I believe that t1 TRAINED EA's (educational assistance) or nurses should be in our school's making sure that our children with type 1 diabetes are safe. I don't think the responsibility of injections should fall onto the teachers. However saying that I do strongly believe that the teachers, principals and all school safe should be educated on type 1 diabetes and a plan be in place for certain emergency situations.

    There is nothing scarier for a parent to drop off your 4 year old newly diagnosed T1 child at a school that has no diabetes education or plan. This needs to change!! and not just for the people of BC but for everyone in Canada that does not have a safe school for their type 1 (we are in Ontario)

  4. From an American standpoint, we have the Americans With Disabilities Act. If the school is agreeable to accomodate other "disabilities," and admisiter medicine for other circumstances, then they must for my child too. I do not believe this should fall on the teachers head. In the old days every school had a nurse. Through poor financial planning we now have 2 school nurses in a city of 60,000 people. I always believe the burden should fall to the parent if they are able. After all, I can give the best care to my kids...I am a stay at home I do not ask for services. But there are families who have two working parents...who cannot make the trip to school twice a day. Should those children be denied a public education?

    I totally see that a teacher isn't a nurse. A nurse is a nurse. They should be staffed. It falls on the government to make sure that their "public" schools are a safe place for everyone...even Type 1 Diabetics. And if they don't think it should be their responsibilty than they should stop services for every condition. Fair is fair. Picking a choosing is prejudice.

    Thanks for bringing up a very important issue!

  5. My comment is riddled with spelling errors.
    :( Yikes! My apologies!

  6. We send Elise to a private pre-school. Her teachers (and the admin) have had a mini-training session (courtesy of Omnipod)and have no problem bolusing Elise for her snack. They have written instructions, and call me when a number pops up that they don't know what to do with.

    But, soon Elise will (most likely) be attending a public school. And I can understand the liability factor from a school's standpoint, but the way I look at it, they're only doing what I've asked them to do. And they're only doing what I would do if Elise was home with me. They're not adjusting her bolus, or messing with the temp basal.

    I'm not sure of how it's done here in Texas (I really need to research), but I do know in our area there are school nurses. I agree that it should not fall on the teacher's shoulders, but there needs to be something in place. Our kids deserve an education as much as any other kid.

  7. Having said all that, Elise is only gone from 9am - 12pm. I might have a little different viewpoint on what I said above (about doing what I've asked them to do) when Elise is gone all day.