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Rural Health Information Hub

School Model

Schools are an important setting for diabetes prevention and management for children and adolescents. Among children, type 1 diabetes is most common but the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly. Interventions designed to promote diabetes care and management within schools can help children stay healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes management within schools is most effective when school staff, patients, family members, and healthcare providers work together in partnership. This includes:

  • School nurses
  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Coaches
  • School principals
  • Office staff and administrators
  • Students with diabetes
  • Parents or guardians
  • Healthcare providers
  • Nurses
  • Certified diabetes educators
  • Other healthcare providers

Schools may need to provide assistance with blood sugar (glucose) testing, medication administration, and monitoring of children and adolescents who have diabetes. School nurses are the most appropriate people to be involved in testing and medication administration, when needed. Schools should also ensure the student's teachers and additional staff members are prepared and comfortable assisting with their diabetes care.

In schools, education and training for teachers, staff, students, and families is also important. Teachers and other school staff can advocate for and support children with diabetes by understanding their monitoring and treatment needs, assisting with appropriate food choices, promoting physical activity, and ensuring access to water and bathroom breaks, among other considerations. Educating all students about diabetes will also help to dispel myths and increase understanding and break down barriers within schools.

To learn about opportunities and strategies for developing a program that provides healthcare services in schools, see the School-Based Services Integration Model in the Rural Services Integration Toolkit. This model includes information about rural communities that are developing programs that link school systems with healthcare programs.

Examples of Rural Diabetes School-Based Programs

  • The Adolescent Pre-Diabetes Prevention Program, based in Delhi, Louisiana, provides pre-diabetes screenings, counseling, and nutrition education to high school students. The purpose of the program is to detect and prevent the onset of pre-diabetes and reduce the development of type 2 diabetes in adolescents living in rural Louisiana. School staff members are also invited to participate in the program.

Implementation Considerations

Effective diabetes management and prevention programs within schools will have a designated team that is knowledgeable about diabetes and involved in the student's care. This team will include a range of school staff, the child who has diabetes, parents and/or guardians, and healthcare providers. Within schools, it is also important to establish tools for diabetes management. These tools include, for example, a diabetes medical management plan, individualized health care plan, and an emergency care plan for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. These plans can help teachers and staff to effectively manage diabetes care.

Resources to Learn More

Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed
An overview of diabetes and diabetes management among school-age children. Offers recommendations for ensuring effective management programs for students in school settings. Identifies specific actions for effective management to be taken by school district administrators, nurses, teachers, food service managers, bus drivers, school psychologists, counselors, parents, and students.
Organization(s): National Institute of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Managing Diabetes at School
Provides information on diabetes management strategies in school settings. Covers topics on developing a management plan, working with teachers and staff, and creating checklists of necessary supplies to be used by children with diabetes. Offers links to additional information and resources.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

School Staff Trainings
Contains resources designed for school staff working with children who have diabetes and their parents and diabetes care providers. Includes a guide and training modules for school personnel.
Organization(s): American Diabetes Association