Diabetes in youth, both type 1 and type 2, are on the rise, and as studies show this trend is expected to continue. School nurses and school staff, alike, need to be aware of the needs of children with diabetes and be prepared to meet those needs in the education environment. Laws governing this are set by both the federal government and the Code of Virginia.
The Virginia Code requires that training be offered to school staff who care for students with diabetes. It was recognized that not all schools had access to quality training due to geographic location or limited resources. Changes in diabetic treatment/regimens as well as advancing new technologies make it especially important that quality training be made available.
The Virginia Diabetes Council Schools Committee recognized this need and in partnership with like-interest community groups has successfully launched a diabetes e-learning program, “Lions Empowering and Aiding Regional Nurses in Schools,” that is now being used by school divisions throughout the commonwealth. With financial grant support of the Lions Club International and Lions Club 24L, the pilot program began in the 2019–20 school year. Initially, Lions Club enrolled 2,872 participants and as of October 2022 has enrolled 10,000 participants. Nine hundred seventy-five schools are enrolled in the program with 70 school districts participating, as well as private and parochial schools.
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This training program offers current information about diabetes and best practices for the care of students living with diabetes. Salus Education’s “Diabetes Care at School: Bridging the Gap” is a comprehensive program that addresses basic diabetes awareness information for the school staff, as well as in-depth, technical information directed to those who have responsibility of the child during school activities. Continuing education credits for nurses and school personnel are available. The training has been approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing.
Those completing the training include administrators, nurses, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, athletic directors, trainers, coaches, choir and band directors, teachers and office staff. Some schools have adopted the program and include it as part of their orientation. Some make the training mandatory annually.
The program has been successful even beyond the walls of the schools. Participants have said they have a better understanding of their own diabetes, and their family members and are very glad they took the training.
Providing feedback about the program, a user responded, “I think this was very useful and designed with the learner in mind. Because something like diabetes is life threatening the subject can be scary to ask questions or to take the time to really understand. This self-paced computer program lowered my level of stress while allowing me to review and study at a pace comfortable to me.”
VDC partners include Lions Club International, Lions Club District 24L, Virginia Department of Education, Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Coordinating Body of Diabetes Care.