Supporting students with diabetes in school settings


Age-appropriate diabetes support for students is detailed, encompassing legal frameworks, healthcare plans, and the essential role of school health teams in effective school management.

Supporting students with diabetes in school settings | Image Credit: © Ana - © Ana -

Supporting students with diabetes in school settings | Image Credit: © Ana - © Ana -

Article highlights

  • Diabetes management in schools varies by age, with toddlers needing comprehensive assistance and older students often managing independently.
  • Access to necessary supplies is crucial for promptly addressing high and low blood glucose levels in students with diabetes.
  • Federal laws, including Section 504, ADA, and IDEA, ensure proper support and protection for students with diabetes.
  • A collaborative school health team, involving students, parents, nurses, teachers, and administrators, plays a vital role in comprehensive diabetes care.
  • Structured health care plans, such as DMMP and IHP, guide diabetes management in schools, with Emergency Care Plans addressing critical episodes.

In managing diabetes among students, the level of assistance required varies based on their age and maturity. Schools can play an important role when it comes to ensuring students with diabetes have proper support. According to a help guide from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there are several ways school infrastructure can help children with diabetes.

Toddlers and preschool-age children typically need help with all aspects of diabetes care. While some elementary school-aged students can independently monitor their glucose levels, a majority still require assistance from adults. Middle school- and high school-age students are expected to manage their diabetes independently, contingent on their experience with the condition and level of maturity. There are instances when all students with diabetes may need assistance, regardless of age. Especially during critical low blood glucose episodes, which can be life-threatening.

Students with diabetes must have access to necessary supplies and equipment at all times to address high and low blood glucose levels promptly.

Federal laws play a crucial role in ensuring appropriate support for students with diabetes. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provide the framework for effective diabetes management in schools. Additionally, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and IDEA protect students' privacy and rights.

The involvement of a school health team is critical for comprehensive diabetes care within the school setting. The student, parents or guardians, school nurse, teachers, administrators, and other relevant school personnel make up this team.

Coordination with the student's personal diabetes health care team, including doctors, nurses, dietitians, and diabetes educators, can enhance the level of care and support.

Health care plans guide diabetes management in schools, including the Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) developed by the student's health care team. The Individualized Health Care Plan (IHP), prepared by the school nurse, outlines strategies for implementing medical orders.

Emergency Care Plans outline procedures for addressing hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Additionally, students with diabetes might have a Section 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) catering to their needs, covering medical services, education, and fair treatment.

The school health team plays a vital role in developing and implementing these plans, ensuring consensus among the school, parents, and involved parties, with proper distribution to relevant school staff for effective execution.


Helping the student with diabetes succeed. National Institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases. Accessed November 9, 2023.

This article was written in part with the use of ChatGPT.

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