January 24, 2012
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will present proposals to the Board of Education this week to help promote the health and well-being of thousands of students in its system diagnosed with Asthma or Diabetes. Pending Board approval, CPS would establish its first-ever asthma management policy, making it the first of all large cities in the country to do so. Asthma is the top chronic disease impacting CPS students today – there are more than 19,000 students with documented cases of asthma, which represents nearly 5 percent of the District’s student population.
The district is also presenting a diabetes management policy to the Board, which follows guidelines in the Illinois Care of Students with Diabetes Act. The policy recognizes that a school nurse may not always be available to assist a student with diabetes, and provides for the identification and training of a Delegated Care Aide for every student with diabetes at a school. There are currently 659 documented cases of CPS students who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
“We must do whatever is necessary to ensure we have proper policies and practices in place to assist students who face health-related challenges that impact their well-being every day,” said CPS Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Claude Brizard. “These steps will ensure that students diagnosed with these conditions can put more focus on their studies during the school day and less on their health.”
The asthma policy requests parents or guardians to notify their school upon a child being diagnosed with asthma. It also asks parents that the school be informed of past asthma episodes, as well as trigger and warning signs. Asthma is considered the most under-reported illness among students in CPS.
The policy will allow students to carry and self-administer their asthma medication with permission from a parent or guardian and a copy of their prescription. School staff who work with students must complete in-service training once every two years on the management and prevention of asthma symptoms and emergency response in a school setting.
In designing the asthma policy, CPS worked with the Chicago Asthma Consortium, the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Pediatric Case Management Services, as well as Medical Legal Partnership for Children, a project of Health and Disability Advocates.
“As advocates working every day with families whose children have special needs and chronic medical conditions, we greatly appreciated the opportunity to collaborate on this critical policy,” said Amy Zimmerman, Director of Chicago Medical Legal Partnership for Children. “Ensuring that children with asthma are known to school staff, have an asthma action plan in place, easy access to their inhalers and any necessary accommodations, is critical to keeping these children healthy and academically successful.”
Similar to the asthma policy, the diabetes management policy asks parents or guardians to promptly inform their school when a child has been diagnosed with diabetes, or of past diabetic episodes, including triggers or warning signs. The Delegated Care Aides will be trained to perform all tasks required to assist a student with diabetes in the event a school nurse is not available in the school.
The policy allows a student who is authorized under their physician’s diabetes care plan to self-manage their condition to check glucose levels and self-administer insulin with the needed equipment, and to possess the supplies and equipment.
In designing the diabetes management policy, CPS worked with LaRabida Children’s Hospital, Children’s Memorial Hospital and the American Diabetes Association. The association also assisted CPS in developing a clinical training program for school nurses as well as the training for the Delegated Care Aides.
"These are landmark policies that will make sure children with asthma and diabetes have access to their medications when they need it in school. These are strongly needed policies to keep kids healthy in school," said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, M.D., MPH, Pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.