Classroom Care: Diabetic Students in Grave Danger!

Published on
November 23, 2009

Diabetic children are in jeopardy of dying in the classroom due to a severe shortage of California registered school nurses. There are 15,000 school districts in California and less than 50 percent of those districts have a registered nurse on campus. Current law in California requires only a registered nurse to administer insulin into a diabetic child at school, and mandates it is illegal for a non-licensed person to administer insulin unless it is in writing.

We need to protect the rights and lives of our children living with a disease that has no cure: diabetes. Nearly 18,000 children are living with diabetes in California. The disease is now an epidemic and is severely hurting our children at school. No parent should have to fear that their child could die at school.

My story focuses on how a diabetic child not only has to physically deal with the disease at school and the challenges faced on a daily basis, but also the social and emotional distress this causes the child at school. There is a bitter war going on between the American Diabetes Association and the California Nurses Association regarding treatment at school for diabetic children. California is financially broke and with a severe shortage of registered nurses, medical attention in the classroom is getting worse. The focus of the story will show how physicians, lawmakers, non-profit organizations, students and parents are fighting the California Nurses Association on allowing a non-licensed person to administer insulin into a diabetic child.

10-year-old Gabrielle Zegers, the little girl I featured in "Sounding the Alarm: Diabetes in the Valley," recently went to the California State Capitol and spoke about protecting diabetic children at school. This is what she had to say during a hearing titled "Our Kids, Their Health: Addressing Childhood Diabetes in Schools."

" My school nurse was at the school only one day per week. Last year I went to a new school and the only people that helped me were the health aide and my teacher. I was not helped by my school nurse Please pass a bill that will let yard duties, health aides, and teachers take care of all thechildren with diabetes in need of help. Even though I am just one kid, I am not speaking just for myself, but for all children with diabetes, because I can tell you that lots of other kids with diabetes feel the same way I do."

Gabrielle, 10 yrs. old, Living with Type 1 Diabetes