Cystic Fibrosis

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Purpose of this policy

To ensure schools support students with cystic fibrosis.

Prerequisite policy

See: Health Care Needs.


Schools must implement strategies to assist students with cystic fibrosis and ensure that they have a Health Support Plan.

See: Health Support Planning Forms within Related policies below.


Cystic fibrosis:

  • is the most commonly inherited, life limiting, incurable condition among Caucasians
  • mainly affects the digestive system and the lungs
  • has symptoms that vary from person to person
  • does not currently have a cure but recent treatment developments mean that almost all affected people live into adulthood and lead productive lives.

People with cystic fibrosis:

  • produce abnormally thick sticky mucus that:
    • blocks small air passages
    • may result in lung damage due to recurrent infections over a period of time
  • require a chest physiotherapy program for clearing airways daily
  • have malfunctioning of the pancreas causing special nutritional needs including:
    • a diet high in energy, fat and salt
    • enzyme replacement capsules taken with meals and snacks to improve absorption of food
  • need to manage their enzymes independently to avoid:
    • reduced absorption of food
    • stomach pains
    • wind
    • diarrhoea.

Note: Enzymes are not drugs and are not harmful for other students.

Impact at school

Most students with cystic fibrosis are usually otherwise well and have minimal restrictions at school. However, students with moderate to severe lung disease may be regularly absent due to illness at home, or hospitalisation.

Students with cystic fibrosis may need extra support from time to time. Consideration may need to be given to:

  • toileting, as frequent trips to the toilet may be necessary
  • fatigue
  • infections and illness
  • body image
  • social and emotional issues
  • school absences and hospitalisation
  • fluctuating capabilities/concentration related to learning
  • prevention of cross infection from other students with cystic fibrosis.


This table describes how schools manage students with cystic fibrosis.

Strategy Description

Activities including camps

With good planning students should be encouraged to participate in sporting and physical activities including camps.  The condition may limit the extent to which the student can participate due to fatigue and limited strength.

Many parents are concerned about camps in relation to administration of:

  • physiotherapy program
  • medication.

To support inclusion of student with cystic fibrosis, see: The Royal Children’s Hospital School Camp Checklist within Other resources below.

The school should also receive medical information through the Department’s General Medical Advice Form – Cystic Fibrosis.

Communicating with parents

Regularly communicate with the student’s parents about the student’s successes, development, changes and any health and education concerns. 

Cross infection

It is recommended that two students with cystic fibrosis not participate in any school activities that require them to be in close proximity to each other because bacteria in the lungs of those with cystic fibrosis may be harmful to others with cystic fibrosis.

Note: Bacteria in the lungs of those with cystic fibrosis are not harmful to students who do not have cystic fibrosis.

Related policies

Other resources