According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), approximately 206,000 people under the age of 20 have diabetes, which is up from 151,000 in 2002.
The disease requires continuous care, and since students affected by it spend such a significant portion of their day under the supervision of school personnel — including those in the transportation department — it is imperative that all members be educated about diabetes and work together in helping students manage their needs and avoid serious complications.
With that in mind, the NDEP has released a guide for all school personnel on how best to manage and support students with diabetes. Listed here are actions provided in the guide that are specific to school bus transportation providers.
A full copy of “Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel” and other NDEP resources on children’s diabetes are available for download at www.ndep.nih.gov/resources/school.htm or by calling (800) 438-5383. Single copies of the guide are free.
Actions for transportation staff
At the beginning of the school year, identify any students on the bus who have diabetes.
Obtain a copy of the student’s Quick Reference Emergency Plan and keep it on the bus in a known, yet secure, place. Leave the plan readily available for substitute drivers.
Understand and be aware that although hypoglycemia normally occurs at the end of the day, it may happen at the beginning of the day if the student has not eaten breakfast.
Recognize that a student’s behavior change could be a symptom of blood glucose changes.
Be prepared to recognize and respond to the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and take initial actions in accordance with the student’s Quick Reference Emergency Plan, which specifies when and how to contact trained diabetes and emergency personnel.
Keep supplies to treat low blood glucose on the bus and be aware of where the students with diabetes normally keep their supplies.
Treat the student with diabetes in the same manner as other students, except to respond to medical needs.
Allow the student to eat snacks on the bus.
Provide input to the student’s school health team when requested.
Communicate with the school nurse and/or trained diabetes personnel regarding any concerns about the student.
Respect the student’s confidentiality and right to privacy.
On field trips, trained diabetes personnel should accompany the student with diabetes and ensure that all the student’s supplies are brought along. There should be enough snacks and supplies available to treat hypoglycemia.