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Alberta is falling behind in diabetes safety in schools

WRPS - Stu Salkeld
WRPS
— image credit: Stu Salkeld

Student care and support while in schools is not provincially managed in the province of Alberta.

A recent poll commissioned by Diabetes Canada states nearly 80 per cent of surveyed Canadian’s school and daycare policies to ensure children with type 1 diabetes can manage their disease. Diabetes Canada would also like to see provinces, such as Alberta, without provincial level policies, move forward in that direction.

Scott McRae, regional director for Alberta and Northwest Territories at Diabetes Canada, says Alberta is one of Canada’s provinces where policies, guidelines and management practices for students living with Type 1 diabetes are left to individual school divisions. “And we don’t feel that’s adequate.”

McRae states Diabetes Canada feels every student in non-provincially regulated provinces should be receiving the same standard of care.

Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools (WRPS) has a Students Health Services and Requirements administrative procedure.

The philosophy of the procedure is that no child should be denied an education on medical grounds. WRPS believes it has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for students.

Procedures of the administrative document include: staff are expected to act in accordance of in loco parentis when dealing with a student illness or injury. Staff are expected to be aware in loco parentis does not allow them to give consent for medical treatment on behalf of a parent.

When a student is dependent on vital medication the principal of a WRPS school shall: make reasonable provisions with parents which will enable the students to receive special medical treatment as required at school or recommend to the superintendent a more suitable educational setting for the student.

Principals are responsible to ensure staff are advised of student medical conditions and staff are to familiarize themselves with the medical conditions of students.

WRPS also has an Administrations of Medications administrative procedure. The belief of the procedure states, “It is recognized that situations may arise from time to time that may require one or more staff members to administer medication to a student in order to preserve the life and welfare of the student. In situations relating to the medical treatment of students, the Division recognizes that its staff members are subject to the responsibilities and limitations inherent in the common law doctrine of ‘in loco parentis’.”

McRae says there are three key components of student care in schools when it comes to Type 1 diabetes.

The first is schools should take a more expanded role in responsibility, and schools should provide students time and space to test their glucose levels.

“And especially for the younger students, a teacher be trained, with the parents’ consent, to help the students,” said McRae.

The second component, McRae says, is in rare cases individuals with Type 1 diabetes can experience very low blood sugar levels. “This is an emergency situation and to deal with that there’s something called GlucaGen.”

McRae says it is imperative for those situations that GlucaGen be kept on-site at schools and staff members be trained in its use, as well as recognizing warning signs.

The third component is schools be trained and be sensitive to student diabetes management practices by giving families 24 hours notice of change in a student’s school routine.

“Parents need to be kept in the loop,” said McRae.

“Our main goal in all of this is a parent should never be afraid to send their kids to school,” he added.

According to a Diabetes Canada March 27 press statement, “Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are the provinces that do not have a policy to protect children living with diabetes in school. Ontario and Prince Edward Island have committed to creating policies but do not have a timeline.”

 

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