Dist. 203 schools reviewing concussion policy for athletes, academics

Posted3/4/2014 5:30 AM
  • Naperville Unit District 203 is looking to formalize IHSA guidelines on handling concussions for athletes, and it's considering concussions' effect on their studies, too.

      Naperville Unit District 203 is looking to formalize IHSA guidelines on handling concussions for athletes, and it's considering concussions' effect on their studies, too. BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer, 2010

Naperville Unit District 203 is likely to adopt a new policy on concussions that will formalize the practice of following Illinois High School Association guidelines for when student-athletes can return to practice and play.

But one board member also is asking administrators to consider including terms for how students with concussions should be treated academically.

Board member Suzyn Price said her daughter recently suffered a concussion and she discovered different teachers handled coordination of makeup assignments and assessments differently.

"That wasn't a uniform practice in the school," Price said. "Something missing from this policy is there are significant academic impacts for students who are dealing with concussions."

For example, Price said doctors suggested her daughter should not take any tests until symptoms of the concussion subsided. But students who suffer concussions might look and sound fine before they are fully recovered, making it difficult for teachers to know when they should return to normal classwork.

Price said the policy should be expanded to address how a student-athlete will be treated in school after experiencing a concussion.

Superintendent Dan Bridges said administrators will cross-reference other policies already on the books, such as procedures for working with students who need to stay home because of medical conditions. Those policies might already offer guidance that could be applied to those who suffer concussions.

Bridges said administrators will review other applicable policies and discuss them with the board during its next meeting March 17, when a vote on the student-athlete concussion policy is scheduled.

The policy says students who suffer concussions during an interscholastic game cannot return to that game unless cleared by a certified athletic trainer or a doctor. If a student is not cleared to return to that game, he or she will not be able to practice or play until receiving written permission from a doctor.

The policy also says students and their parents should be informed in writing of procedures for returning from a concussion before each season, and staff members should notify parents if their child shows symptoms consistent with a concussion.

Board member Susan Crotty asked if the policy also could extend to other club teams not yet governed by the Illinois High School Association so all kids who wear a District 203 school's jersey can be covered.

Deputy Superintendent Kaine Osburn said administrators will work with the district's attorneys to determine if other clubs can be included under the policy before bringing it back for a board vote.

Administrators on Monday night did not have statistics about how often concussions occur among student-athletes in District 203.

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