Position statement

  • Students living with diabetes have the right to be full and equal participants in school and all school-related activities without the fear of being excluded, stigmatized, or discriminated against.
  • School boards should develop and communicate a comprehensive diabetes management policy that includes the roles and responsibilities of the student living with diabetes, their parents/guardians and school personnel according to the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Guidelines for the Care of Students Living with Diabetes at School.
  • School principals should work with each student living with diabetes, their parents/guardians and healthcare professionals to develop and communicate to school personnel an Individual Care Plan (ICP) that complies with the student’s prescribed diabetes management regimen.
  • Each ICP should be comprised of a daily diabetes management plan and a diabetes emergency plan.
  • Schools should permit students living with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose (sugar), administer insulin and treat low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) conveniently and safely wherever and whenever required.
  • School boards should be responsible for providing appropriately trained personnel to safely administer insulin and monitor blood glucose, food intake and activity for students who are unable to perform these activities independently.
  • School personnel should be trained to recognize emergency situations and to respond appropriately according to the student’s Individual Care Plan (ICP). School personnel should be trained to administer glucagon in the event of a severe hypoglycemic reaction.

Background and rationale

To maintain long-term good health, individuals living with diabetes must balance medication, including insulin, food and activity every day. With support from school personnel, most students can manage their diabetes independently while in school. However, some students are unable to perform daily diabetes management tasks and may require someone to assist with or to administer insulin, monitor blood glucose, or supervise food intake and activity.

It is a hardship for many parents/guardians to be present at their child’s school or school-related activities to assist their children with daily diabetes management tasks. Poor management of blood glucose levels can seriously affect academic performance as well as the student’s overall health. Ongoing hyperglycemia that is not recognized and left untreated can eventually lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, blindness, amputation and kidney failure. Each student’s Individual Care Plan (ICP) will inform school personnel about the diabetes care and monitoring required as well as treatment guidelines for hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.

Mild to moderate hypoglycemia is common in school and can be treated by consuming fast-acting sugar. Severe hypoglycemia is an emergency situation when a child is unconscious and/or unable to take glucose orally and requires immediate treatment with glucagon injection by trained school personnel. Glucagon is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to raise blood glucose levels. An injectable form of glucagon is vital first aid in cases of severe hypoglycemia.

Given the seriousness of the condition, parents/ guardians, students and school personnel must be clear and confident in their roles and responsibilities in the care of students living with diabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association wishes to work in partnership with provincial and territorial governments and school boards to establish diabetes school policy that will meet the needs of students living with diabetes.

Kids Living with Diabetes at School - CDA Position Statement