School board OKs new Return-to-Play protocol

The Fort Dodge Community School District Board of Education passed a resolution to adopt the new statewide Return-to-Play protocol for student athletes who suffer concussions while participating in school-sanctioned athletics.

The protocol was established by the Iowa Department of Public Health after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an update to Iowa’s concussion law in 2018.

The protocol states that “a student who has been removed from participation shall not recommence such participation until the student has been evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and other brain injuries and the student has received written clearance to return to participation from the health care provider.”

The school board passing the resolution to adopt the protocol won’t change much about how the school district already handles concussion cases.

“I think the biggest change in practice for us is having the line to make sure it is a requirement that student athletes and/or coaches disclose that they had a concussion to our athletic trainer,” said Superintendent Dr. Jesse Ulrich. “We are in a great situation where we have a full-time athletic trainer to be able to assist with overseeing the process for them to go back into the field of play. This ensures the safety for our students, and that has to be the No. 1 priority, not necessarily the situation that they’re returning to the game.”

All district coaches have or will receive training specific to this new protocol, said Fort Dodge Senior High Athletics and Activities Director Kevin Astor.

“Before the season is started, they have to pass the Return-to-Play protocol course through the national federation,” Astor said. “All of our fall coaches have already completed all of that.”

District coaches will have to renew their training every year.