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How do I handle medical procedures in my classroom?

Q: I teach kindergarten and have a diabetic student in my class. The student goes to the school nurse for blood sugar checks and insulin injections. But the Principal wants me trained to perform the blood sugar checks and insulin injections so I can do them when the nurse is not available. I don't want to use needles and give shots, what can I do?

A: You can say NO. VEA lobbied hard and won a state law protecting teachers from being forced to perform health-related services. Virginia Code section 22.1-274 paragraph D provides that licensed instructional employees shall not be disciplined or dismissed for refusing to perform nonemergency health-related services for students, or refusing to obtain training in the administration of insulin and glucagons. Instructional aides and clerical employees may not refuse to dispense oral medications, and other health services may be included in the job description and duties of an instructional aide.

Schools are not required to provide students with medical care but must provide "related services" necessary to allow a student with disabilities to attend school and benefit from education. Insulin injections, catheterization, and administering medication seem like medical duties but do not have to be performed by licensed medical personnel. Schools must provide these services for students, but VEA helped convince the General Assembly to allow teachers to concentrate on delivering instruction and supervising students.

If you agree to perform health-related services make sure that you have written direction from the Principal and authorization from the student's parent or guardian. You want written direction and authorization to be sure you are covered by school board insurance and the Educators Employment Liability Insurance you have as a member the Virginia Education Association and National Education Association. 
Contact your Uniserv Director for help communicating with the Principal or other school officials.


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