Guidance for School Personnel

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If you work in a school and are a principal, teacher, nurse, school board member, district superintendent or anyone else who interacts with a child who is being treated for cancer, this section is for you.

Because cancer in children is rare, most school professionals will know only one child who has cancer during their career. Applying the same rules schools have for other illnesses or injuries works well in most cases. However, there are times when schools need to be creative in responding to a particular child and family.

In the School Support section, we draw your attention to some unique characteristics of children with cancer related to the disease as well as to side effects and the long duration of treatment. We spell out, in considerable detail, the sorts of issues that schools might face and offer suggestions on how to address them.

We recognize that it is hard to generalize about children’s cancer because there are many different types and treatments vary. For example, the duration of treatment times can vary from a single surgery for a child with a benign tumor, to 3 months for some children with lymphoma, to as long as 3 years for those with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The intensity of treatment also varies. Some children are able to attend school while being treated and others need to be in the hospital for treatment and extended recovery. We recommend that you work with the child’s parents and, if possible, a member of the child’s medical team to develop plans that will meet the needs of the individual child.

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