Naperville schools work on concussion policy

<p>File Photo</p>

File Photo

A member of the Naperville District 203 School Board says the proposed concussion policy for student-athletes doesn’t go far enough.

While District 203 has been in compliance with Illinois High School Association procedures regarding concussions and student-athletes, Deputy Superintendent Kaine Osburn on Monday night said a continuing audit of the policy manual showed the district had not adopted a concussion policy.

He said the district has been following the IHSA head injury rules since they were introduced in 2011.

The legislation sponsored by state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, also required IHSA member schools to adopt a policy regarding student-athlete concussions and head injuries that is in compliance with the protocols, policies and bylaws of the IHSA. The policy introduced Monday would officially align the district with IHSA.

District 203 is in the process of working with Illinois Association of School Board attorneys to pore over each district policy to update everything from wording to adding policies like that for student-athlete concussions and head injuries.

The concussion/head injury policy basically acknowledges the district will implement a program to manage concussion and head injuries sustained by student-athletes per IHSA protocol. A student-athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in a practice or game shall be removed from participation or competition at that time.

Students can return to play or practice only after having been cleared by a licensed physician or certified athletic trainer who is working in conjunction with a physician.

Board member Suzyn Price said she wondered if the policy should be extended to include academics.

Speaking from experience when her daughter sustained a head injury, Price said concussions can affect academics in addition to sports. While her daughter had good coordination among most teachers, not everyone was on the same page. Price said she would like to see a more uniform approach when it comes to dealing with testing or assignments.

“Knowing and having talked to professionals about this, there are academic impacts,” Price said. “What is our thinking about adding to it to incorporate into our policy how a student athlete with a concussion will be treated academically?”

Superintendent Dan Bridges said other policies, such as those regarding illness or other medical conditions, should cover the academic side.

Price said concussions are problematic because they are different from illnesses in that students appear to be well.

“They can walk around looking fine,” she said.

She also said research into concussions is so far ahead of policy, and most school districts have simply adopted the same IASB policy that is being proposed for District 203.

Osburn said he will investigate how other districts deal with the academic aspect fo those with concussions. He suggested the issue might be more of procedural matter than matter of policy.