Principals should ensure that excursion supervising staff are familiar with the medical histories of students, particularly with respect to epilepsy, diabetes, asthma and heart conditions.
The risk of infecting other students and staff means that students suffering from ear infections, throat infections, colds, papillomas and other contagious infections should not be permitted to enter swimming pools and other swimming venues until they have recovered.
It is advisable to seek advice from a parent before including any student with a chronic illness in a swimming based activity. If there is any doubt concerning a student's reaction to any aspect of the activity, the parent should be advised to seek a medical opinion on the matter.
As far as possible, students with medical conditions should be encouraged to take part fully in excursion activities. However, where special precautions are required and the school is unable to provide the necessary supervision, the parents must take responsibility for ensuring that safety requirements are met without interference to the supervision of others participating in the activity.
If a student's suitability for inclusion in an excursion activity is in doubt, the principal should consult the student's parents and the student's doctor, or seek advice from the Department of Human Services. Under such circumstances, a medical certificate should be provided confirming the doctor's approval for the student to participate in the planned activity, at the specified location and for the duration of the activity.
Exposure to cold conditions can lead to an illness known as hypothermia. It is a progressive condition that starts with shivering. Further stages are mental confusion, muscle stiffness, irregular heartbeat, unconsciousness and, ultimately, death.
For many months of the year, the water temperature of most of Victoria's waterways and cold-water swimming pools is sufficiently low to induce loss of body heat. Water temperatures are unlikely to be so low as to produce the extremes of hypothermia, but swimming based activities should not be conducted if there is a danger to students.
It is recommended that students wear wetsuits for surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving activities in Victorian coastal waters.
This section applies if a student has been observed or is otherwise known to be subject to epilepsy or any form of medical condition involving periodic loss of consciousness. Such a student should be permitted to participate in the activity as long as a medical certificate is provided stating that the program appears to present no undue risks for the student at that time.
A new certificate is required if a further episode of loss of consciousness is known to have occurred or every twelve months. A certificate that is conditional upon special precautions being taken should not be accepted unless the parents arrange the additional supervision necessary and accept complete responsibility for the safety of their child during the activity.
Even then, participation should only be allowed if the principal is satisfied that the special arrangements will not interfere with the conduct of the activity.
Many outdoor and adventure activities are regarded as strenuous and students with asthma may require medication before and during these activities. Staff must ensure that all students with asthma carry their own nebuliser with them for all activities. In addition, suitable medication should be available in the school's first-aid kit.
Principals should request that parents of students with asthma provide written consent to their child's participation in the activity. This consent should indicate that their doctor has no objection to the student participating in the particular activity.
Students with severe asthma who wish to participate in snorkelling and scuba diving activities are required to provide a certificate from a medical practitioner and an asthma management plan. Templates are available through Asthma Victoria.
To prevent insulin or hypoglycaemic reactions, student with diabetes must be permitted to take extra food at any time, particularly before physical activities. Staff must ensure that students with diabetes have ready access to appropriate food (for example, fruit, biscuits or fruit juice).
With these precautions, all students with diabetes should be encouraged to take full part in all swimming-based activities. The Royal Children's Hospital Diabetic Clinic is able to provide additional information or advice to the school, if required.
Refer to Sun Smart policy for information concerning sun protection.
For more information about medical emergency management, see: