By Clare Superintendent Doniel Pummell
“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands. “ Jeff Cooper
Jeff Cooper is not talking about a mild or traumatic brain injury.
Public Acts 342 and 343 of 2012 (Concussion Laws) came into effect for schools and youth sports June of 2013. Along with these laws are requirements to educate, train, and collect forms. These efforts will work toward implementing various procedures and processes that will increase awareness and safety for all of our youth that are physically active. It is important to note that these requirements extend to non-school/MHSAA programs as well as community based programs.
For School/MHSAA, sport activities schools are to follow existing MHSAA rules and requirements related to concussions. It states that any athlete suspected and evaluated is to be removed. This athlete may not return to the competition or practice that day. Lastly, the athlete must be cleared by an MD or DO to return to the competition.
Clare’s Athletic Director Dan Haggart stated the following: “Our current practice follows the MHSAA guidelines. If an athlete is suspected of having a concussion, is displaying concussion-like symptoms, or is diagnosed as having a concussion; that athlete may not return to practice or a contest until he or she is cleared by a doctor, MD or DO.” To read more on the concussion law follow the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) website at michigan.gov/sportsconcussion.
Another part of the law is to provide educational materials to families. In addition, these materials must contain a signed receipt that is to be placed in the permanent student files. All Clare schools are working on accomplishing this “informing” and “signed” receipt this fall. According to the June 2013 law, the district will only need to update these signed receipts each time the Department of Community Health (DCH) issues updated materials. Therefore, once Clare Public Schools has a copy on file for a student, we will only need to ask families to do an updated signing if DCH updates their policy.
Non-MHSAA sport activities such as physical education, summer camps and clinics must do the same. They must also comply with rules related to training staff and coaches. Educational materials must be shared with participating individuals and families. Participating individuals must sit out if suspected of a concussion and must be cleared in writing by an MD or DO before he or she may return.
MHSAA and the DCH do have more requirements in mind for local school districts related to prevention, monitoring and management of concussions for our youth. Mandatory baseline testing for athletes is forthcoming in the near future. However, Clare Public Schools is lucky in that we have been working with our local medical professionals, our coaching staff and our All Sports Booster Club to collaborate and be proactive. It is AD Haggart’s plan to put baseline testing in place for our athletes before it is required! With our fantastic athletic trainer, Rick Taylor, and our supportive School Board, Pioneers will lead the way to safety for our youth!