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December 14, 2019

11/2/2019 7:30:00 AM
School board approves updated policy on concussions

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

Late last month the School District of Rhinelander Board of Education unanimously approved the district's policy covering student accidents, illnesses and concussions. The only revisions to the policy concerned concussions, it was explained.

The revisions were recommended by NEOLA, the district's policy consulting firm, to ensure that the district's concussion paperwork and training is consistent with state law.

The policy changes were approved by the district's operations and strategic planning committee in September, and reviewed by the district's health care professionals, before being forwarded to the full board for approval, district superintendent Kelli Jacobi explained in a memo to the board included in the agenda packet.

"Kerri Schmidt, school nurse and Eric Prom athletic trainer are in agreement with the policy as revised," the memo said. "Dr. (Kent) Lowry also reviewed the policy and shared information pertaining to head injuries and care by health care professionals, which have been incorporated into the administrative guidelines to this policy. His comments reflected the language of Wis. Stats. 118.29 and 118.293, which are incorporated into the revised policy as proposed by NEOLA."

Jacobi was not present for the board's Oct. 21 meeting, so Maggie Peterson, director of student support and learning services, made a brief statement to the five board members at the meeting on her behalf. Pe sterson explained that the changes had been reviewed extensively by the three district health care professionals.

"They take a look at this every year, and have meetings on a regular basis," Peterson said.

Board member David Holperin said committee chair Mike Roberts had raised one concern about the changes, but he was not in attendance at the Oct. 21 meeting.

"I read through it, and honestly, it looks good," Holperin said.

The board then voted 5-0, with three members absent, to approve the policy.

Two changes were made to the policy via the board action.

The first clarified that at the beginning of each season for an athletic sport, coaches and student participants will receive a concussion and head injury information sheet. No student under the age of 19 will be able to compete until they return the form with a parent's signature.

Each student would only have to return one signed sheet per school year to participate in sports, the policy reads.

The second change to the policy involves what is to happen when a student suffers a concussion or head injury.

"A coach shall remove from competition or practice any student that the coach determines is exhibiting signs, symptoms, or behavior consistent with a concussion or head injury, or who the coach suspects has sustained a concussion or head injury," the revised policy states. "Any student removed from participation under this section may not returned to participation until a release to participate is provided from a health care professional."

It is the last sentence in the above addition that Roberts questioned at the September committee meeting.

His concern was whether a trainer or the team doctor could make that decision while the contest was going on.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at

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