Students with diabetes used to have to leave their classrooms when their blood glucose levels got too high or low. A change in state rules this fall will allow self-care.
Students can self-test, have a snack or insulin if needed, without going to the nurse's office. Rene Williams is an Assistant Superintendent at Honeoye Falls-Lima Schools, and Advocacy Chair for the American Diabetes Association in the Rochester area.
"And I think sometimes we spend so much time worrying about everyone else that sometimes we just need to believe that people are making the best decisions they can for their own health, and we need to let them do that."
She reminds us the new rules mandate that parents and doctors give permission for a student's in-school self-care.
"Let them be. Let them take care of themselves. Let them be a part of our school community in a way that just lets them be there and go on with their daily business."
Williams suggests parents contact the American Diabetes Association with any questions.
Changing NYS Law
Convincing legislators to change the law wasn't easy, according to Williams.
"It's been a long time coming. It's been years and years of working with doctors and the nurses association and our legislators to understand how important self-care is for students with diabetes."
The new rules can also apply to responsible students who need inhalers for asthma and epi-pens for allergies.
"It really is a discussion that a family has with their doctor to make sure that the student can really handle it. We need to really trust that those folks who know the kids on that level are making the best decision that they can."
She says it's important to let diabetic students live their own lives.
"People that don't have diabetes have a really difficult time understanding how much those of us with it deal with it all the time. We can sense when our bodies are 'off a bit' - either high or low. For us, it's second nature."
She says kids won't make a big deal out of their self-care. They usually want it to be a private, personal matter.
Parents worried about blood may be concerned. Williams says testing equipment is compact, uses a drop of blood on a small testing tab.
"There's not a lot of blood hanging around after that. Students with diabetes, if they're self-testing, have alcohol wipes that they use prior to sticking themselves to test, and then they wipe afterwards to make sure that they're not contracting anything as well with an open wound."
Williams told WXXI she believes most school nurses do a great job reminding diabetics about the safe disposal of testing supplies.
"I can't imagine that a student who is not as careful with these things will be afforded the opportunity to take care of themselves that way, on a regular basis. Because it's not in the student's best interest, either.”
Williams expects some issues may arise as the changes are implemented. She says the American Diabetes Association is ready to help: