HD31 - The Need for Guidelines for Health Requirements for Sports Participation in Public Schools
This study was conducted during the fall of 1994 in response to House Joint Resolution (HJR) No. 165 (1994 session). The resolution requested that the Department of Education, in cooperation with the Department of Health, to study the need for guidelines for health requirements for sports participation in public schools. This request was initiated by Delegates Robert G. Marshall and Jay O'Brien, responding to the need to protect the health status of all student athletes in Virginia's public schools. Refer to Appendix A for HJR No. 165.
Objectives of the Study:
• Review current practices in the Commonwealth's public schools and in other states.
• Make recommendations specifying those illnesses and conditions that can and should be detected prior to authorizing sports participation.
• Make recommendations designating the appropriate roles of the Departments of Education and Health, local school divisions, coaches, teachers, parents, and students in developing, monitoring, and/or updating guidelines for health requirements for sports participation in the Commonwealth's public schools.
• Prepare a report presenting the research resulting from this study and the recommendations of the team.
Sources of Information:
• Identification of "Code of Virginia" laws and regulations pertaining to health requirements for contagious diseases and school attendance.
• Review of Virginia High School League, Inc. Handbook sections germane to the issues of the study.
• Analysis of the development of the Virginia High School League, Inc.'s (VHSL) "Athletic Participation/Parental Consent/Physical Examination Form."
• Examination of the VHSL's "infectious Disease Policy."
• Identification of the laws, regulations, and guidelines specifying illnesses and conditions that can and should be detected prior to authorizing sports participation.
• Analysis of the roles of the agencies, organizations, and others in the development, revision, and evaluation of guidelines for health requirements for sports participation.
Findings of the Study:
• There are limited data available on the extent of youth sports injuries, illnesses, and conditions that pose a health risk to Virginia's student athletes.
• A major role of the Virginia Department of Health is assessing the public's health.
• The health requirements for contagious diseases and attendance laws and regulations are comprehensive insofar they address preschool physical examination requirements, documentation of immunizations, and communicable disease prevention.
• The VHSL's "Athletic Participation/Parental consent/Physical Examination Form" adequately identifies students at-risk for athletic injuries and provides for a sport-specific evaluation.
• The VHSL is responsible for supervising competitions and high school activities and their jurisdiction does not extend to the middle and elementary school levels.
• The VHSL has the primary role for the development of guidelines for health requirements for sports participation.
• School Health Advisory Boards are available to all school divisions to address local sports participation health issues.
• Policies and guidelines for sports participation in Virginia public schools exceed those of most other states and are congruent with the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations.
• The Virginia Department of Health and the VHSL should devise a mechanism for the collection and analysis of data pertaining to conditions that create a substantial health risk to student-athletes.
• Current laws, regulations and guidelines for health requirements for sports participation should be sufficient to protect Virginia's public school athletes.
• Consideration should be given to provide that elementary and middle school levels follow VHSL health guidelines for sports participation.
• The public schools in the Commonwealth should continue to require a pre-participation physical examination as specified by the VSHL.
• A representative of the Virginia Department of Health should be a member of the VHSL's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
• School Health Advisory Boards, agencies, and individuals should be encouraged to take an active role in reviewing and revising the VHSL's health requirements for sports participation by providing suggestions or recommendations to the League.
•The health care provider should identify illnesses and conditions that can and should be detected prior to authorizing sports participation in accordance with VHSL and AAP guidelines.
• Physicians making decisions about sports participation for students who have more than mild congenital heart disease or who have cardiac dysrthmias should consider consulting a cardiologist and review the report of the Seventeenth Bethesda Conference concerning cardiovascular abnormalities in the athlete and recommendations regarding eligibility for competition.