Diabetes at School
At the beginning of every school year there is always planning to prepare your child for a successful academic year. For parents who have a child with type 1 diabetes there is an additional layer of planning and preparation to keep your child safe at school. It is important to know your rights and responsibilities. Children with diabetes have the right to have equal access to educational opportunities and to be equal participants in school related activities.
Laws Protecting Your Child with Type 1 Diabetes
The two main laws that protect a child with diabetes are Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the American with Disabilities Act . Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that prohibits disability-based discrimination in all programs that receive federal financial assistance. A "504 plan" is an agreement between a student/family and a school district stating the student will have full access to all school activities and will have his or her diabetes related needs met.
The American with Disabilities Act is another civil rights law that protects students with disabilities. In addition to public school students, this law protects students in private schools, unless a religious institution runs the school.
Now that you are aware there are laws supporting your child with diabetes at school, you as the parent/guardian must work with your child's health care team and school personnel to create a plan that will support your child at school. Your provider will sign school orders which will contain specific information for your child with regard to checking blood sugar, treatment for low blood sugar and high blood sugar, when and how to administer insulin, count carbohydrates, exercise guidelines and disaster planning. The school orders signed by your doctor or provider may go by different names. The orders may be called "school plan," "physician's orders," "healthcare plan," or "diabetes medical management plan." It helps to know the terminology used in your medical practice.
Here at the Madison Clinic, we have a few forms we use regularly. We help you with these as you make your plans before the start of the new school year. If your child goes to a public school, please complete this School Form Info and either send it in to us via email to Madison.Clinic@ucsf.edu or bring to your appointment before school starts. By familiarizing yourself with these standard forms, we work together to get the plan right from the beginning. Management of Diabetes at School and School Events page 1 and page 2, and Treating High Blood Glucose (BG) When Using an Insulin Pump. We typically update these forms annually, but at least you get the general understanding of our forms.
In addition to the signed doctor's orders, families may choose to complete a more detailed medical management plan. A more detailed plan has been written by the American Diabetes Association and is called the "Diabetes Medical Management Plan." Your doctor or provider may or may not sign this plan.
Once you have the doctor’s or provider's orders, it is recommended you follow up and meet with the school staff to bring it all together. There are accommodations students with diabetes might need implemented at school, like being allowed to have snacks at the desk and unlimited bathroom breaks. For this reason, it is advised that a parent/guardian meet with the school at the beginning of each school year to develop a written 504 Plan. The advantage is the legal protection it provides you and your child.
Resources for Parents and School Staff
We have pulled together additional resources so you can learn more. Below you will find the organization's name and the documents that you may find helpful.
American Diabetes Association:
Safe at School,
State Laws, Regulations and Policies for School Diabetes Care ,
Diabetes Care Tasks at School: What Key School Personnel Need to Know
Care of Young Children with Diabetes in Child Care Setting , and
Students with Chronic Illnesses: Guidance for Families, Schools, and Students
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Managing Diabetes at School
Back to School Basics with option to download a school advisory toolkit
National Diabetes Education Program:
Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel