Don’t let the risks outweigh the benefits of school-sponsored activities
February 2, 2016
Student safety is a top priority.
Most parents encourage their children to get involved in school activities — participate in sports, join a club or volunteer in some capacity. It’s assumed that such activities will broaden a student’s horizons and help develop strong bonds with classmates.Schools and school districts typically require parents to sign a waiver allowing their child to participate in these programs, yet are they really giving much thought to injury risks associated with such activities? The possibility of emergency-room level injuries happening frequently to students is something schools and school districts are wise to consider.
As the popularity of student activities, particularly sports participation, continues to grow, the statistics regarding student injuries are concerning:
- 1.35 million youths have serious sports injuries each year
- 12 percent of all emergency room visits by children involve a concussion; 47 percent of those were children ages 12-15
- Young athletes who play a single sport for more hours a week than years they are old were 70 percent more likely to experience serious strains and sprains
- Concussions caused by contact sports are a quickly growing epidemic among young athletes; 3.8 million concussions were reported in 2012, doubled from 2002
In order to help mitigate injuries, schools and school districts can employ the following tactics:
- Ensure facilities are properly maintained and harmful exposures are addressed.
- Make sure equipment provided is appropriate for the sport/activity and is fitted properly.
- Warm up and stretch as appropriate before activities.
- Make hydration and rest top priorities.
- Have a certified trainer or training staff who can properly diagnose and provide initial treatment for injuries.
- Document action plans for handling all potential injury-related scenarios.
- Evaluate students’ performance levels when participating in the sport/activity and be aware of specific medical needs/concerns.
- Ensure all school activities are properly supervised.
Regardless of how well a school is prepared, accidents can still happen as can the subsequent medical, emotional and financial burdens. Some injuries can run into the tens of thousands of dollars for a family, particularly with today’s higher deductible health plans.
One way to help alleviate this burden is for schools to offer student accident insurance coverage. This coverage can help parents limit their financial burden by offsetting high deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, even if a parent has primary medical coverage in place. In addition, student accident coverage can also help protect a school or school district from potential lawsuits brought by parents.