Prince William County School District Setting Policy

After working with the Trenum’s since late last year I have taken a special interest in how Michelle and Gil have been doing.  Although they will never be the same, what they have been doing in their area has been nothing short of remarkable.  It feels good to me that parents like the Trenum’s have taken the initiative to help out, and are doing it in a manner that is professional and proactive.  After we ran that story Michelle got back with me with some thoughts and more specific information/wording in the school districts policy.

Thank you so much for all your help on this.  You really helped give Gil the information he needed to get the policy through.  The administration will now be working on the regulations and details.  Gil will stay on top of them to make sure all aspects are covered.  It was interesting in all the information the board received, the athletic trainers were credited the most as being the go to on this subject.  They were given ultimate authority over return to play which is good.  Although none of what passed would have made a difference in Austin’s case, once the final medical pathology study is released, we feel that it will keep the momentum on this issue to make changes.

Michelle and Gil not only sought information from people like me, but much smarter individuals; MD’s, PhD’s and the ilk.  With all that information she was willing to share the specific language the board is set to pass;

The regulations are being written as we speak and that is what will cover the specifics about how much cognitive rest, staying home, school nurse, teacher requirements, etc.



Concussion Management

Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) supports the need to ensure that our staff, students and community are aware of the seriousness of brain injuries and concussions and how they can affect the student’s abilities in the educational setting. It is the policy of the school division that:

1. Students participating in PWCS events shall be properly evaluated at the event for concussions if exposed to a head injury;

2. All students who appear to have sustained a concussion, at a PWCS event or not, shall be given support and encouragement to engage a health care professional who is experienced in evaluating and treating concussion injuries and appropriate information to help them identify one;

3. All students who have been diagnosed with or appear to have sustained a concussion, whether at a PWCS event or not, shall be given appropriate time to heal prior to returning to physical or cognitive activities and shall be comprehensively supported until they are symptom free.

4. PWCS events shall include any school-sponsored activity.

The Superintendent shall prepare regulations:

A. Addressing concussion evaluation and management at all interscholastic events at high schools and middle schools, to include the appropriate staffing of Certified Athletic Trainers at appropriate schools;

B. That provide for appropriate cognitive rest periods immediately following a concussion diagnosis or a suspected concussion on the basis of an evaluation by a PWCS Certified Athletic Trainer or School Nurse, and assessment protocols for appropriate return to classroom activities;

C. That provide for appropriate Return to Play guidelines for athletes at the Middle School and High School level. In no case should the athletic trainer familiar with a student recovering from a MBTI injury be required to certify a student ready to return to an activity if they [the ATC] are not medically comfortable with that decision;

D. Identifying training and certification requirements for athletic trainers employed by PWCS;

E. Addressing concussion education for certified staff, coaches and administrative personnel at the division and school level, participating students and their parents. Education shall include, but not be limited to, signs and symptoms of a concussion, danger signals, recovery protocols, and the importance of cognitive rest during recovery. At a minimum the materials prepared for school personnel by the Centers for Disease Control should be covered, and additional resources should be used as appropriate.;

F. Providing for training of Physical Education teachers and other sponsors/leaders of activities where students are at risk of head injury, to facilitate rapid recognition of such events and prompt consultation with medical professionals;

G. Such other regulations as may be helpful to prevent or reduce the frequency of such injuries.

The Level Associate Superintendents and the Associate Superintendent for Student Learning and Accountability (or designee) are responsible for implementing and monitoring this policy.

Because of the rapid growth in research and awareness within the medical community, the Concussion Policy Review Team, under the direction of the Supervisor of Health and Physical Education, Driver Education, JROTC and Athletics is responsible for reviewing this policy and accompanying regulations on an annual basis. The results of this review shall be reported to the School Board via the Associate Superintendent for Student Learning and Accountability following the implementation of this policy.

Here is a VIDEO about the policy.

I encourage all out there to take a look at this policy for each individual school district you represent.  Even if the resources are not available for an athletic trainer, perhaps the school already employs a nurse.  Even if neither are available this policy can be adapted to any school with little or no cost to the school.  It would include the most well-known aspect of return to play but it ALSO defines return to school and making accommodations.

2 thoughts on “Prince William County School District Setting Policy

  1. Tracey Tessena May 22, 2011 / 08:13

    Another huge issue is the coaches. Are they trained properly. When my son had a concussion and was hit in the head several times on the mat the coaches did nothing. The head coach went out on the mat and told my son (during a big tournament) to “Stop putting on a show!” Then told us (parents) to be quiet about it. If it got to the back to our school and to the Sports Director he would not be able to wrestle anymore. That my son was fine. Then my son was called names and bullied by the coaches after he was told by three doctors that he could not wrestle. The school trainer did three different test on my son which proved he was actually getting worse. I am in the process of having these coaches investigated.

  2. Jessie Shanks September 3, 2011 / 11:52

    In PWCS the coaches are required to attend the same presentation the parents and athletes must attend before being allowed to participate in any sport. In the high school an athletic trainer is on site to evaluate the athletes at the time of an injury, but at the middle school level, that luxury is not there. The education is working, many athletes and parents are coming forth when concussion symptoms are present. The risk that a coach could brush off the symptoms is present when an athletic trainer is not present, but hopefully with the new regulations, coaches will put their desire to win aside and rethink potentially harmful decisions. I have seen drastic changes in the way coaches view concussions, but we must continue to be diligent in our endeavor to educate the masses.
    As the laws changed over the course of last year, the was a significant change in the way doctors and emergency departments practiced. The ED went from clearing athletes with a concussion to automatically referring them to a specialist. The regulations affect every facet of the health care system.

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