preparing for return to school
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives. In particular, schooling has been significantly interrupted with many children learning from home for several months.
Now, as schools around Australia re-open, we are presented with fresh new challenges. For parents of children with type 1 diabetes, going back to school may pose some questions. Parents might feel nervous about sending children back to school. Some might seek clarity about changing policies (which may differ from state to state); how to prepare for returning to school; information about hygiene; and whether updates to diabetes management plans are needed.
For some parents, there may be concern about their child’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 once they go back to school.
Diabetes experts have agreed that children with type 1 diabetes do not have an increased risk of being infected with the COVID-19 virus.
International and Australian data shows children are less likely than adults to catch COVID-19 and, if they do catch it, tend to have less severe illness.
Children with type 1 diabetes are likely to have challenges managing their blood glucose levels if unwell from the virus, and this also happens with other illness.
The best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene and physical distancing from others.
If you are concerned or unsure if your child should return to school, it is best to speak with your child’s diabetes treating team for further advice.
In particular, children and young people with diabetes with co-existing conditions such as significant cardiac disorders, respiratory disorders (eg cystic fibrosis) and immunodeficiency should take the advice of their medical specialists about returning to school.
If you need further help and support with your child’s return to school, please phone the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700 and ask to speak with a diabetes educator.
essential info and articles
Want to know more about how COVID-19 impacts you and your child? Want to know what you need to do to prepare for going back to school? We’ve got a range of articles and fact sheets in our COVID-19 Chalkboard hub.
back to school
If your child is currently at school, or is getting ready to go back to school, there’s lots to consider.
Check the facts and stay up to date with the latest policies. Check your preparations including your diabetes kit and check your management plan and refresh it where necessary.
Talk to your school, and let your teacher know about any changes to your child’s needs. Talk to your child about what’s happening and help them to manage stress and anxiety.
Work with your diabetes schools team, including your teacher, principal and health care professionals
When returning to school, there will be many changes to adjust to including changes in routine, food requirements and daily activity levels. These changes may impact your child’s blood glucose levels, which might mean extra monitoring and potential changes to their diabetes management plan while they adapt.
Here are some quick tips to help with a smooth transition.
back to school tips:
- Help your child to pack their bag, plan their lunches, get their uniform ready, and talk to them about what they hope to do in their school day
- Debrief about the school day when you pick them up
- Talk to your child and school about additional monitoring and review their diabetes management plan if needed
- Restock and replenish school supplies and hypo kits
- Ask for support if you need it – the staff at your child’s school want this transition to be positive for your child and family
- Encourage your school’s staff to refresh their knowledge by completing the free Diabetes in Schools online training
As children return to school, extra hygiene measures will be in place at schools to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Take time to discuss practicing good hygiene with your child. Good resources to refer to can be found here.
Talk with your school about the hygiene measures they plan to put in place for staff who need to assist your child with tasks such a glucose monitoring or insulin administration. This will include washing hands (or alcohol-based sanistiser use) before diabetes care tasks, use of gloves by school staff and extra cleaning of diabetes equipment. Take time to discuss these measures with your child and reassure them that these extra steps are needed at this time, but that they do not mean they are contagious or at increased risk of getting COVID-19.
Keep all diabetes equipment daily that is going to school such as blood glucose monitors, lancet devices, mobile phones used for CGM/flash monitoring and insulin pumps clean. Information about cleaning and disinfection can be found here. Make sure that any cleaning products used are compatible with your device/equipment.
If your child is unwell, do not send them to school.
If diabetes equipment and supplies, such as blood glucose monitors, lancet devices and spare insulin, were taken home when home learning started, remember to take them back to school. If your supplies were kept at school, check to make sure they are still in date and have not expired, and are still in working order.
Make sure hypo kits and activity food supplies are fully stocked and items are still in date.
Will your child still have their usual classroom and specialist teachers on their return? If not, organise a meeting time with any new teachers (this may be done virtually) to discuss your child’s diabetes care needs, how to use their action and management plan and any training they might require.
Does your child’s classroom or specialist teacher require training on how to best support your child’s diabetes care during the school day? Due to COVID-19 restrictions, face-to-face training for school staff has been put on hold. However, you can refer school staff to the Diabetes in Schools online training program (CLICK HERE) where they can undertake online learning modules to learn more about supporting your child’s diabetes care needs while at school.
While self-isolating to protect against COVID-19, many children have been less active than they usually would be when attending school. Keep in mind that once your child returns to school, and other extracurricular activities occur, they are likely to be much more physically active and this is likely to impact their blood glucose levels. If this is the case, management changes will be needed. If you are unsure how to do this, please speak with your diabetes treating team for advice.
Before returning to school, ask the teacher to send you a copy of your child’s term 2 timetable. This will help you to plan your child’s management requirements for PE, sport and other extracurricular activities.
Has your child had any significant management changes while away from school? Maybe they have started on an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor or flash glucose monitoring. If this is the case, organise a time to meet with your child’s teacher (virtually) to update them on these changes and supply the school with an updated If your child needs help to use these devices at school, you might like to organise a video meeting with the teachers to show them what they need to do, or discuss training options for school staff with your child’s diabetes treating team.
If you are still concerned and unsure if your child should be returning to school, please speak with your child’s diabetes treating team for further advice.
And we are always here to help. If you need support, please phone the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700 and ask to speak with a diabetes educator.
it’s business as usual
While COVID-19 has had a significant impact on schools and school students over the last couple of months, the Diabetes in Schools program has continued to be available. In fact, during this time more teachers and school staff have been able to undergo Level 1 Introductory and Level 2 Intermediate training, which means there are now more people trained to help your child in schools than ever.
Keep up-to-date with Diabetes in Schools newsletter.
View back to school resources
Coping with change
External changes and their impact on type 1 diabetes can be unsettling and cause stress and anxiety. It is important to be aware that stress can make living with type…
Plans & Checklists
Back to school checklist
Good planning and communication between families and schools is very important to ensure children are safe and supported at school during this period. This checklist provides a practical starting place…
Communication with your school
As students head back to the classroom, it is normal for students, parents and teachers to feel anxious. Your child’s teachers will value and appreciate open lines of communication, which…