Pearl River Board of Education also approved the Pearl River School District's new concussion management policy at Tuesday's meeting, passing a resolution waiving the second reading of the policy so it could be adopted effective Aug. 21.
This faster adoption allows the district to comply with state regulations and to get the policy in place for the fall sports preseasons, which began Aug. 17 for football and Aug. 20 for all other teams.
This includes the use of ImPACT testing for the purposes of evaluating a student athlete's recovery from a concussion. The computer-generated assessments measure cognitive function and require baseline tests to be taken before the season begins. If the student suffers a brain injury, they take the test again and the results are compared to help evaluate their recovery.
"We began assessing athletes sooner than required by the state, but did not have the policy language until late," Pearl River Superintendent Dr. John Morgano said. "We were ahead of the curve on this. Everything is in place."
"My son took the test today," Pearl River School Board President Rob Davis said. "He reports that he did okay.
"It seemed to go over very well with the student-athletes."
Participants in all sports will be required to take the ImPACT tests.
"Today 58 football players had ImPACT assessments and 44 varsity and junior varsity boys soccer players," said Pearl River Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Sue Wheeler. "We are moving on to girls soccer tomorrow. We will schedule them for all athletes for the fall season and go through the same process prior to the winter and spring seasons for students who have not yet had baseline testing."
Wheeler said the concussion management policy does not just apply to athletes. The regulations will apply to participation in all school activities.
Resident Eric Foote asked why the policy does not address different regulations for athletes as they suffer more than one concussion. Morgano said they would look into the issue. One reason that ImPACT testing is commonly used at the professional, collegiate and high school level is to help determine if an athlete has fully recovered from a concussion before returning to their activity. This helps reduce the risk of further damage.
Some key rules outlined in the new policy are:
- A student who is believed to have suffered a concussion must immediately be removed from their activity.
- A student who suffers a concussion may not return to play until they have been cleared by a licensed physician and symptom free for five days.
- The district's chief medical officer will have final authority in determining when a student may return to practice or play.
- The district will establish a concussion management team, which will ensure proper implementation of the concussion management policy.
- All district coaches, physical education teachers, nurses, the director of athletics and the athletic trainer will pass a course in the recognition and management of concussions every two years.
- During the preseason for all district athletic programs, all student-athletes will participate in ImPACT testing, which will provide a baseline measure of their cognitive functions. If the student suffers a concussion, this baseline will be used for comparison to help evaluate the student's ability to return to competition. Students will not be allowed to participate in any sports without taking an ImPACT test.
More of Wheeler's remarks regarding the policy are in a video attached to this report. Tuesday night's meeting agenda, including the full text of the concussion management policy, is also attached.
Check back with Pearl River Patch for more on the issue of concussions in sports and the Pearl River School District's approach to dealing with them.