Pennsylvania Governor Corbett has signed into law HB 1610, which is now Act 59 and effective July 29, 2012. This law prescribes rules applicable to schools and designed to protect student athletes from cardiac arrest.
The law directs the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Department of Health to prepare and post on their websites guidelines to inform students, parents, and coaches about the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest, including the risks associated with continuing to play or practice after experiencing symptoms.
Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are defined to include fainting, difficulty breathing, chest pains, dizziness, and abnormal racing heart rate.
Prior to participating in an athletic activity, a student and his or her parent or guardian are required to sign and return to the school an acknowledgment of receipt and review of the guidelines prepared by the Department of Education and Department of Health.
The law suggests that schools hold information meetings prior to the start of each athletic season to address risks and prevention steps.
Very importantly, if a student is determined by a game official, coach, certified athletic trainer, licensed physician, or other official designated by the school entity, to exhibit signs of cardiac arrest while participating in an athletic activity, the law mandates that the coach immediately remove the student from participation. The student may return to participation only after evaluation and clearance in writing by a licensed physician, certified registered nurse practitioner, or cardiologist. In addition, athletic coaches are not allowed to coach unless they have completed a sudden cardiac arrest course offered by a provider approved by the Department of Health.
School districts should start steps necessary to develop a policy and implement these important new requirements.
We hope you find this issue of KKAL’s Education Law Watch helpful and informative. Please understand that the Law Watch is designed to provide information about current developments and required actions. It does not constitute legal advice, and school districts should consult a lawyer knowledgeable in this area of the law prior to taking specific actions on the issues addressed.
If you have any questions regarding any education law matter, including the issues discussed in this newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact us at 717/392-1100, or email us at the following addresses:
KEGEL KELIN ALMY & LORD LLP
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Kegel Kelin Almy & Lord LLP is a regional law firm with offices in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. KKAL is solicitor and general counsel to 17 school districts and joint school systems – and bond counsel, finance counsel, or special joint counsel to many others in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania. In addition, KKAL frequently serves Pennsylvania school districts for unusual and challenging problems, projects, or litigation.