OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 456 (File 408, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENT ATHLETES AND CONCUSSIONS.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires anyone who has a coaching permit issued by the State Board of Education (SBE) allowing him or her to coach intramural or interscholastic athletics to be periodically trained in how to recognize and respond to head injuries and concussions. It also requires such a coach to take a student athlete out of any interscholastic or intramural game or practice if the coach knows or suspects the athlete has suffered a concussion or head injury. The coach must keep the athlete out of any game or practice for at least 24 hours and until the athlete has received clearance from a licensed medical professional to return to participation.

SBE must develop or approve initial and refresher concussion training courses and annual review materials in consultation with (1) the governing authority for intramural and interscholastic athletics, which is the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), and (2) organizations representing licensed athletic trainers and county medical associations. SBE must develop or approve the initial course by July 1, 2010, the review materials annually starting by July 1, 2011, and the refresher course by January 1, 2014.

The bill allows SBE to revoke the coaching permit of any coach who violates its requirements.

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) requires SBE to prepare or approve the annual review materials on concussions and head injuries by July 1, 2011 rather than January 1, 2011 and requires it to do so annually; (2) allows a coach to let an athlete who shows symptoms of a concussion return to a game or practice if the coach reasonably believes the undiagnosed symptoms are caused by some other physical condition or illness; and (3) requires SBE to consider that a coach has met the bill's initial training requirement if (a) the coach takes a CIAC course on concussions on or after January 1, 2010 and before the SBE approves the initial training course and (b) SBE determines the two courses are substantially similar.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage for the training requirements; July 1, 2010 for the requirement to remove students from games or practices for at least 24 hours and until they receive medical clearance.

TRAINING FOR COACHES

Training Requirements

The bill establishes a program to train those with coaching permits about head injuries and concussions. It requires coaches to complete an initial training course before starting to coach for the season in the 2010-11 school year. It requires SBE to consider that a coach has met this requirement if, between January 1, 2010 and the date SBE approves the initial course, the coach successfully completes a course offered by CIAC and SBE determines the CIAC course and the approved initial training course are substantially similar.

Starting with the 2015-16 school year, coaches must complete a refresher course on concussions and head injuries every five years. Starting July 1, 2011, in any year they are not taking a refresher course, coaches must, before they begin their coaching assignment for the year, review current and relevant information on concussions and head injuries. Both the annual reviews and the periodic refresher courses are a condition for reissuing a coaching permit.

Training Content

The initial course must include training in (1) how to recognize the symptoms of a concussion or head injury, (2) how to obtain proper medical treatment for an athlete suspected of having a concussion or head injury, and (3) the nature and risk of such injuries. As part of the latter, the course must cover the danger of continuing to play and the proper method of allowing an athlete to return to play after he or she sustains a concussion or head injury. The refresher course must include (1) an overview of key recognition and safety practices, (2) updates of research on and prevention of concussions, and (3) updates on relevant new laws and regulations.

REMOVAL FROM GAMES AND PRACTICES

The bill requires a coach to immediately take an athlete out of any interscholastic or intramural game, competition, practice, or other athletic activity if the athlete (1) shows signs of a concussion or (2) is diagnosed with a concussion. The requirement applies unless the coach reasonably believes that the athlete's undiagnosed symptoms stem from a physical condition or illness other than a concussion. The coach must keep the athlete out for at least 24 hours and not allow a return to supervised team activities involving physical exertion until the athlete has received written clearance from a licensed physician, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, or athletic trainer trained to evaluate and manage concussions.

Following medical clearance, a coach must restrict the athlete's participation until he or she (1) no longer shows signs of concussion at rest or with exertion and (2) receives medical clearance to participate fully in supervised team activities involving physical contact or exertion.

BACKGROUND

Coaching Permit

SBE regulations require every intramural and interscholastic athletic coach working in a public elementary, middle, or high school to have either an SBE-issued coaching permit, renewable every five years, or a temporary emergency coaching permit, valid for one year and renewable once. A coaching permit holder must meet the following requirements:

1. be at least age 18;

2. have a high school diploma or its equivalent;

3. successfully complete a standard first aid course within three years before applying for a permit and every three years after receiving the permit;

4. continuously maintain CPR certification; and

5. either (a) hold a regular teaching certificate or (b) complete at least three semester hours or 45 clock hours of instruction approved by the State Department of Education (SDE) and offered by a board of education or CIAC on the medical, legal, and safety aspects, and the principles and practices, of coaching children and adolescents and child and adolescent sports psychology.

A coaching permit is renewable every five years, provided the holder completes at least 15 clock hours of SDE-approved professional development that provides information on safe and healthy coaching practices and understanding child and adolescent development (CT State Agency Regs. 10-145d-423 (b)).

Temporary Emergency Coaching Permit

A temporary emergency coaching permit allows the holder to coach intramural or interscholastic athletics in a public school for one year. A school board must apply for such a permit and provide evidence that the holder:

1. is at least age 18;

2. has a high school diploma or equivalent; and

3. no earlier than one year before the application, completed a standard first aid course and CPR certification.

At a school board's request, SBE may renew a temporary emergency coaching permit for a second year, if the local board provides evidence that the applicant has enrolled in or completed at least two credits or 30 clock hours of instruction toward the requirements for a coaching permit (see above) (CT State Agency Regs. 10-145d-424 and 425).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

32

Nay

0

(03/19/2010)

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

29

Nay

0

(04/14/2010)