High schools in Kentucky are protected with certain procedures to prevent and respond to concussions in high school sports. But when it comes to middle and elementary schools, decisions are left to local jurisdictions.
“The high schools in our state have us to make rules, the middle schools and other levels don’t have anyone making those rules,” said Julian Tackett, commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Kentucky remains one of eight states without legislation standardizing procedures following suspected concussions in school athletics at all grade levels. A few years ago Kentucky saw the need for concussion policies at the high school level and enacted them, said Tackett.
“We have talked to some members of the general assembly, we’ve talked to some key people in government on whether or not we should memorialize what we’re doing. But the other states they were behind and they are catching up to where we have actually been,” he said.
That just covers high school, said Tackett. Decisions for middle and elementary schools are made at the local level, he said. All JCPS schools are subject to the same procedures as high schools, said Jerry Wyman, JCPS athletics director. A coach or doctor will take a student out of play if a concussion is suspected, and that student can’t return until officially cleared, he said.
But, middle school coaches aren’t subject to the same state-level training as high school coaches, said Wyman, and education is important for detecting concussions. The safety video provided to high school coaches is expected to be available to middle school coaches soon, he said.
This year, JCPS has increased its education and has already distributed concussion posters at many of its high schools and beginning this year will distribute posters to middle schools, said Wyman. It has also added nine new coaching positions at all JCPS middle schools as each year the numbers of students participating in school athletics increases, he said. And that’s the goal, said Wyman.