Things Getting a Bit Easier for Students With Diabetes

Diabetes and school make a difficult combination. Dealing with temporary basal rates, tests (for both BGs and academics), lunch, recess, and so on can all throw a student’s diabetes management a major-league curve.

Students and parents of students with diabetes, however, can rest a little easier this year. Late in the summer of 2006, new standards were established by the National PTA organization. A resolution on diabetes care was passed that is consistent with the American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School message. In short, it was agreed that at least two school staff members should be trained in diabetes care and emergency treatment at every school.

Dawn Johnson-Wenger

This move began with a school secretary in Alaska named Dawn Johnson-Wenger. Dawn felt frustrated that when children at her school sought help for blood glucose emergencies, nine out of 10 times a parent had to come to the school to administer care. Dawn realized that this delayed treatment can put the student’s health in jeopardy, and that it was often unnecessary for a parent to leave work to treat a low or give an insulin injection.

Dawn submitted a resolution to the Alaska PTA suggesting that school personnel be trained in general diabetes care and that two school workers obtain specific training in identifying hypo- and hyperglycemia and responding to diabetes emergencies. The Alaska organization passed the resolution and decided to submit the same resolution content to the national organization.

The national resolution passed overwhelmingly in late June at the PTA’s annual meeting in Arizona.

How This Will Help

Students with diabetes are now in a safer environment. Access to a school nurse is preferred, but when that isn’t possible, other trained staff members can provide necessary care and support.

It took the conviction and initiative of just one person to effect change. This is what I would really call “taking the lead.”

For more information about the PTA Resolution, visit or html.

Text of Resolution

Whereas, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in school-age children, affecting 176,500 young people in the United States in 2005; about one in every 400 to 600 people under the age of 20 has type 1 diabetes; and

Whereas, the American Diabetes Association states that in 2002, diabetes was the fifth-deadliest disease in the United States; and Whereas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that each year, more than 13,000 youths are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes; and

Whereas, a growing number of children and adolescents are developing type 2 diabetes—a form of diabetes that is generally diagnosed among adults; and

Whereas, many schools do not have a full-time nurse or licensed healthcare professional available on site to handle medical emergencies, and nursing duties are oftentimes performed by other school personnel; therefore be it

Resolved, that National PTA and its constituent organizations urge that all school personnel receive general training on diabetes; and be it further

Resolved, that National PTA and its constituent organizations urge that at least two staff members per school obtain specific training on diabetes care, diabetic emergency procedures and identification and treatment of symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia as allowed by individual state statutes and licensures.

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