CBHEC helps teachers care for children with diabetes

Children with diabetes have more advocates in their classrooms, thanks in part to training provided by the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center (CBHEC) to teachers and other school employees throughout the region.

student and adult in lunchline

In addition to school nurses, Texas schools must have at least one staff member with a basic understanding of diabetes management for children.
The Coastal Bend Health Education Center offers the necessary diabetes training classes.

Just a few years ago, some children with diabetes and their parents struggled with school rules that prevented students from conducting basic tasks to manage their disease. It can be a major challenge, as about one in every 400 U.S. children and adolescents has diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

“School faculty had limited access to information about how to care for a child with diabetes in schools and why children with Type 1 diabetes had to frequently go to the bathroom, check their blood sugars or have a snack,” said Delia Martinez, interim program coordinator for the center’s Diabetes Education Program.

However, changes began when House Bill 984 passed in 2005, regulating diabetes management of children in schools.

The law states that, in addition to school nurses, Texas schools must have at least one staff member with a basic understanding of diabetes management in children. Campuses without a full-time school nurse are required to train three employees to be unlicensed diabetes care assistants.

The Coastal Bend Health Education Center began filling the educational gap for South Texas schools in 2005 by providing diabetes training classes. Training guidelines were developed by several agencies, including the Texas Diabetes Council, American Diabetes Association and National Diabetes Education Program, and private vendors.

The educational sessions teach the school staff that students with diabetes should be allowed to have a snack when needed, go to the restroom, test their blood sugar during class time and visit the school nurse if they are not feeling well. Teachers also learn how to inject students with an emergency dose of glucagon, which can stabilize students in the midst of a blood sugar crash while they wait for help to arrive.

The curriculum for the one-day training also provides information about Type I and Type II diabetes, along with common medications, methods for checking blood sugar levels and diet recommendations. Participants must pass both the written and skills tests to be designated as unlicensed diabetes care assistants.

In 2012, CBHEC conducted five workshops in partnership with the Education Service Center-Region 2 and trained 212 school employees.

“Participants are thankful for the support and information they receive from the program,” Martinez said.

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