With schools starting to reopen around Australia, many parents and carers of children with type 1 diabetes may be wanting to know if it is safe for their child to return to school.

The advice from the Australian Government and the independent health experts is that there is a relatively low risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools and that children are safe to go to school. (2)

Based on international and Australian data, children have been found to have low infection rates of COVID-19 and, if they get infected with COVID-19 the illness is generally mild. (2)

Paediatric diabetes experts around Australia have advised that based on available data, children with type 1 diabetes are not more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or becoming severely ill compared to other children. They are likely to have challenges managing their glucose levels when unwell, and this is also the case for other viral illnesses. (3)

Diabetes treating teams are encouraging parents and carers to send their children back to school in line with relevant State Government and individual school recommendations as this will have positive impacts on their learning and social interactions. They are encouraging parents and carers to make sure that their child has had their flu shot, has a sick day management plan in place and to follow school physical distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Risk of catching COVID-19 at school

Although the risk of COVID-19 in the school setting has been shown to be low, state education departments have put policies and procedures into place around hygiene and physical distancing to help schools stay safe. (2)

There will also be extra steps taken if your child requires help to carry out their diabetes self-care tasks. Some useful information on hygiene can be found here.

Talk with your school about the new policies and procedures they have in place to help keep safe.

What can you do to reduce your child’s risk?

The greatest risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools is between adults. (2) It is important for parents, carers and school staff to maintain physical distancing from other adults when attending school, including when dropping off and picking up your child.

Other tips include:

  • Do not send your child to school if they are sick or have even mild symptoms
  • Make sure that your child knows to tell you, or a teacher if they feel sick
  • Take time to discuss and practice good hygiene with your child at home so they will know what to do when at school. Good resources on hygiene can be found here

What if you are still concerned?

The decision to send your child back to school is a personal one for you as a parent. If you still have concerns and are unsure if your child should be returning to school, please speak with your child’s diabetes treating team for further advice.


Links to State Education Departments (may or may not be needed)

  • ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Education Directorate

https://www.education.act.gov.au/

  • Department of Education NSW (New South Wales)

https://education.nsw.gov.au/

  • Department of Education Northern Territory Government

https://education.nt.gov.au/

  • Department of Education Queensland Government

https://education.qld.gov.au/

  • Department of Education Government of South Australia

https://www.education.sa.gov.au/

  • Department of Education Tasmanian Government

https://www.education.tas.gov.au/

  • Department of Education and Training Victoria State Government

https://education.vic.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

  • Department of Education Government of Western Australia

https://www.education.wa.edu.au/

 

References

  1. Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (15th May 2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for schools and students. Link HERE
  2. Australian Government Department of Health. (24th April 2020). Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice on reducing the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. Link HERE
  1. Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group. (30th March 2020). Information for families of children with type 1 diabetes regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 in Australia. Link HERE