With Term 2 commencing this week, many parents are unsure as to whether to send their child with type 1 diabetes back to school.
Daina Coenen, Diabetes in Schools Program Clinical Nurse Specialist at Perth Children’s Hospital, said the Diabetes Clinic had received many inquiries from parents seeking advice.
“The overarching recommendation is that children with type 1 diabetes are not more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 than other children but are likely to experience disturbances in managing their glycaemic control when unwell, as with any illness,” she said.
“In the main, children have low infection rates and tend to have lower levels of illness.”
To assist parents with their own decision-making process, Ms Coenen said it was important to consider the individual risks and benefits for each family.
Things to consider:
Age of the child and the impact of being away from school (yr 1 vs yr 12)
Impact of schooling at home on the family’s capacity to work
Assessed risk in the child’s school environment – number of cases in their local community, ability of the child to manage diabetes-care, hand washing and social distancing measures (including the potential impact of two or more health conditions, which a child living with type 1 diabetes might have)
Level of parental anxiety in sending their child to school as opposed to keeping them home
Number of siblings and whether they will be going to school
Credentialled diabetes nurse educator Adele Connor, who job shares the Diabetes in Schools Program role with Ms Coenen, said parents should not feel pressured to send their children back to school if they were unhappy to do so.
“I think we should emphasise that schools will support their decision and put into place the appropriate learning resources,” she said.
“If you do decide to send your child, the Diabetes in Schools program is still operational through this time and can help support eligible schools requiring further training on diabetes management.”
The School of Special Educational Needs: Medical & Mental Health will continue to provide assistance to schools and parents of referred students to facilitate making school a safe and inclusive space for children with diabetes. As the State Government is now encouraging parents to attend school, please contact you class teacher/school representative to clarify any concerns you may have.
More general information is available on the Department of Education website. For students who attend a Catholic Education WA or an Association of Independent Schools WA school, please consult with your school or leading organisation.