Best Practices for Schools Without a Nursing Staff

There’s nothing like a rousing game of volleyball or running a lap around the track to break up the school day. In addition to being fun, school gym classes promote good health, camaraderie, and have been shown to help boost academic performance. Yet despite the many benefits of physical education, accidents can happen.

A study published by BioMed Central found that injuries among adolescents in sports, leisure and school settings all increased from 2015 and 2016. Also, according to an article by Reuters students may be getting more concussions in PE classes than in regular organized sports. The University Of New Mexico School Of Medicine found that during the 2013 and 2014 school year, 3.5 of every 100 students were reported to have a concussion compared to PE classes where 4.7 out of every 100 students were reported to have a concussion.
 
In addition, a 2009 study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found the number of physical education-related injuries to elementary, middle and high school students in the United States increased 150 percent between 1997 and 2007. This study while older represents a current trend and is still used as reference point for researchers today.
 
According to the study, the most common physical education-related injuries were lower-extremity sprains and strains (23 percent), followed by upper extremity sprains and strains (14 percent) and fractures (14 percent).
 
Many factors put students at risk for injuries including:
 
  • Poor monitoring and supervision of children during gym class
  • Inadequately maintained equipment
  • Lack of school personnel awareness of injury prevention
  • Lack of knowledge of appropriate safety procedures
  • Risk-taking behavior among students
With a nationwide nursing shortage making school nurses a scarce commodity, many private schools have devised innovative solutions to keep students healthy and safe whether they are in gym class or on the field.
 
At a private high school in Portland, Oregon, all of the physical education teachers are trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid. In addition, the school has purchased easy-to-use automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Statistics have shown that having AEDs and an emergency resuscitation plan in schools makes a big difference. According to the American College of Cardiology, sudden cardiac arrests in school aged children do occur. They estimate that two in fifty high schools in the U.S. will have a sudden cardiac arrest each year. Although this is rare, being prepared may just save a student’s life.  
 

Additional Safeguards

Another private school – this one in Boca Raton, Florida – is fortunate to have two school nurses on campus, but they have also implemented a number of safeguards to protect student athletes.
 
The school’s PE teachers have radios they can use to communicate with the infirmary as well as the athletic trainers when injuries occur during classes. If a student is injured during a physical education class, they are evaluated and treated by one of the school’s nurses, and if it’s an orthopedic or sports related injury, the radios make it easy for the nurses to ask the athletic trainers to help with the evaluation.
 
In addition, the school’s athletic training room is equipped with splinting and wound care equipment, an ultrasound, an electrical stimulation machine, Game Ready units (ice compression), hydrocollator (moist heat pads), whirlpools, and rehabilitation equipment to treat acute injuries as well as rehabilitating athletes back to their pre-injured state.
 
Looking for other ways to ensure that your school is doing all it can to protect students? In addition to implementing safeguards, schools can prepare for the unexpected by taking out a student accident insurance policy. School Accident Insurance can provide another layer of protection in the event a student is injured during gym class, while also protecting schools from potential lawsuits. While the coverage can vary from provider to provider, it can include medical expenses, counseling, home tutoring, and others related to an injury. Your insurance agent can help find the coverage that’s right for your school.
 
 
The information provided in these materials is intended to be general and advisory in nature. It shall not be considered legal advice. The Hartford does not warrant that the implementation of any view or recommendation contained herein will: (i) result in the elimination of any unsafe conditions at your business locations or with respect to your business operations; or (ii) will be an appropriate legal or business practice. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for the control or correction of hazards or legal compliance with respect to your business practices, and the views and recommendations contained herein shall not constitute our undertaking, on your behalf or for the benefit of others, to determine or warrant that your business premises, locations or operations are safe or healthful, or are in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. Readers seeking to resolve specific safety, legal or business issues or concerns related to the information provided in these materials should consult their safety consultant, attorney or business advisors. All information and representations herein are as of 4/19/18.