Dealing with a School Lockdown and Type 1
I’m writing as a concerned parent and a parent of a child of type 1 diabetes (T1D). I know many of you out there can relate. As August hits us, it’s that time of year when we must begin preparing for the upcoming school year. For those of us with T1D kids that preparation looks a little different.
My daughter, Kiara, was diagnosed with T1D in 2012 when she was 6 years old. Since then I’ve learned the ins and outs of school challenges and how to prepare for many of them. Up until last year, my sole focus for school preparation was making sure all school faculty and caregivers were properly trained and fully aware of Kiara’s medical needs.
On her 504 plan, I wrote in how often she needed a snack. How often she could use the restroom. How often she needed water breaks. That changed one day when I called the school because I hadn’t heard from anyone with my daughter’s lunchtime carb count. I found out the school was in a “soft lockdown.” The news sent me into a panic. Ultimately everything was fine, but the event was an absolute eye-opener.
The biggest problem during the lockdown was that my daughter’s diabetic bag was in the office and unreachable should she have needed it. Luckily, she didn’t, but it made me aware that I needed to include a protocol for these types of occasions. Unforeseen events are just one of the many reasons why I also wrote into my child’s 504 “cell phone use during emergencies.” It was because of this, I was able to reach her, know that she was okay and have her check her blood sugar with her in-class emergency kit.
It’s really important that you and your child have a plan during times such as this. Because we had previously communicated about “What do to in the case of an emergency,” Kiara knew to immediately turn her cell phone on so I could reach her. After this situation, I scheduled a meeting with the school principal for a 504 revision. We communicated about what happened and how it could be avoided in the future. Not just for my child but for your child as well.
Parents, the more we educate the school staff, the more accurate information they will have for type 1 students in the future. Be sure that the changes that have been made to your 504 are clearly communicated to your school faculty and anyone else who would have authority over your child during school hours.
My biggest advice to T1D parents as the school year approaches is to know your rights and exercise them. Your 504 is a federal document (for the U.S. citizens) that is meant to protect and ensure the well-being of your child. (Outside of the US, visit here.) In a document such as this, you can dictate your child’s level of care by including crucial scenario details in their report:
Initially I wanted to keep my daughter’s emergency supply bag in the classroom with her, but that idea was shut down by school faculty, who thought keeping the supplies around other children could be dangerous. The truth is that keeping the supplies far away from your child can be even more dangerous. I will no longer accept “no” for an answer here.
A cell phone is your lifeline to your child. While many schools understandably ban them because of the distraction they cause, a T1D parent comes at the problem from a different angle. I have it written into my daughter’s 504 plan that she is allowed to I’m writing as a concerned parent and a parent of a child of T1D. I know many of you out there can relate.
I was not prepared for the soft lockdown that came last year. What if it had been a hard lockdown? What if it had become a more serious event? One has to prepare for the worst as a T1D parent and that means having a plan for care during lockdowns and writing that plan into your child’s 504 plan as soon as possible.
It’s taken many of us T1D parents years to figure out how to feel we’ve safely prepared our children to be at school. Our job doesn’t stop when the plan is in place either. It’s up to us to keep on top of potential care issues, keep supporting and educating faculty about the needs of T1D children and keep ensuring our kids are both empowered and safe.
Here’s wishing you and your children a happy, successful and safe school year!
-This T1D Mom
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