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In-School Blood Glucose Testing and Safety in Massachusetts

Planning for the school year can be an overwhelming experience for parents with a child who has diabetes. There are many things to think about, plan for and put in place before the first day of school.

One particular area families plan for is enabling their child to check his or her blood glucose in the classroom. Occasionally, schools struggle with this because of safety concerns for the child, the teacher and the other students in the class.  Lack of training in diabetes management and misconceptions about the amount of blood required for testing, equipment needed and who should be trained and how, can further concerns.

In December of 2004, Massachusetts amended an existing act allowing students with diabetes to self-monitor and treat in the classroom. This regulation is part of Chapter 456 of the Acts of 2004 and states the following:

Not withstanding any general or special law or regulation to the contrary, a school district shall not prohibit a student with diabetes from possessing and administering a glucose-monitoring test and insulin delivery system, in accordance with department of public health regulations concerning a student’s self-administration of a prescription medication.

School districts interpret this regulation in different ways. The pediatric team at the Joslin Diabetes Center believes this regulation provides any student the right to possess a blood glucose meter and check his or her blood glucose level in the classroom. In order to relieve any concerns the school staff may have, a detailed plan should be put in place that involves communication with the family, the school nurse and staff, and your child’s diabetes healthcare team.

There are a number of steps families should take to initiate the planning process. First, a meeting should be scheduled with the school nurse and teacher to train staff involved in your child’s care on how to use the blood glucose meter. There also needs to be a plan implemented for reacting to a blood glucose number. Consider the following list:

  • Determination of when to treat and what the target is for blood glucose
  • How to treat hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose)
  • Who treats a low or high blood glucose
  • Where the treatment will take place
  • How and when will the nurse be contacted, if necessary

School staff is typically concerned about the presence of sharps in a classroom environment. There are many options for families now to help alleviate concerns and allow your child to safely check his or her blood glucose.  One example is a lancing device, which contains up to six lancet sharps in the device rather than dispensing them into a sharps container. Contact your child’s diabetes healthcare team to discuss these options.

The most important aspect of allowing your child to safely manage his/her diabetes in the classroom is having open and continuous communication between the school staff, your family and your child’s healthcare team. Initiate communication prior to the beginning of the school year, so that you can create an effective school plan that enables your child to succeed.

Page last updated: November 22, 2014