Educational Establishment Resources
This information is to help teachers have a better understanding of SCD and the SCD students at their schools. The information should guide and advise teachers the best way possible and give great practices to help teachers build better relationships and a better learning environment for their pupils.
SCD in Educational Establishments
All staff should be made aware of sickle cell/thalassaemia, some schools cover this using part of a teacher day. Staff need to know what to do if the child has a painful crisis, how to recognize signs and symptoms of a stroke in young people with SCD, and learn to listen to the child if the child says they are feeling unwell. Ensure there are robust systems for relaying this information when the child has a supply teacher, when they change class or when they change school. Ensure the availability of a safe area for a pupil with SCD or thalassaemia to recover and take time out from activities. They may be able to return to study later in the day.
Things Teachers Should Know
Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder of the red blood cells. In sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become distorted and look C-shaped, like a sickle. Sickle cells die early, which leads to anaemia.
Signs of anaemia include:
• pale skin
• tiring easily
• feeling lightheaded, dizzy, of short of breath
• trouble paying attention
• fast heartrate
Students with sickle cell disease may:
• need to go to be tired in class and
• need occasional rests from classroom activities the school nurse's office and take medicine to help manage pain
• need to have classroom air temperature adjusted to avoid becoming overheated or too cold, which can trigger episodes of pain
Students may also have symptoms that need immediate medical care such as:
- severe pain
- chest pain
- trouble breathing
- jaundice or paleness
- extreme tiredness
- swelling of the hands and feet
- severe headaches
- other neurologic symptoms (such as sudden vision changes, slurred speech, weakness or inability to move a part of the body, or loss of consciousness
- enlarged spleen and pain in the abdomen
- An unwanted painful erection of the penis, unrelated to thoughts about sex.
Things Teachers Can Do
Students with sickle cell disease may miss class time or be absent for doctor visits or hospital stays. Give these students special consideration regarding missed instruction, assignments, and testing.
Chronic fatigue or pain can make it appear that students aren't motivated to learn. Knowing your students well can help you make an accurate assessment.
Kids and teens with sickle cell disease may not be able to play contact sports or participate in strenuous exercise — check with their parents. Otherwise, encourage them to participate in moderate physical exercise and other school activities.
There are also other best practices for teachers such as:
Hydration-Water - Young people with SCD need to be well hydrated to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill
• Supply of fresh drinking water available
• Allow to drink throughout the day- aim for 2-3 litres
• Have water bottle on the table
• Ensure water fountains are working and highest state of cleanliness- pupil is not deterred from using it and risk of infection kept to a minimum
Using the Toilet - People with SCD cannot concentrate urine easily. They produce large quantities of dilute urine and need to go to the toilet more often
• Do not restrict toilet breaks
• Consider use of toilet pass- laminated card to excuse the pupil
• Enuresis (“wetting”) common complaint of SCD- boys often up to teenage years
• Avoids embarrassment for the pupil
For more information please see the following links:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - link
Nationwide Children's - link
De Montfort University Sickle Policy - link
Kids Health in the Classroom - link
Sickle Cell Society - link
De Montfort University Resources for Schools - link
Sickle Cell Anaemia News - link
Resources for Schools and Parents - link
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