athletics

Clayton County Public Schools announced Monday plans to “strengthen athletic practices and protocols.”

JONESBORO — Clayton County Public Schools announced Monday plans to “strengthen athletic practices and protocols.”

The changes come following the death of 16-year-old Elite Scholars Academy student Imani Bell in August 2019. She died from “hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis during physical exertion with high ambient temperature” while taking part in an outdoor basketball practice. The temperature was approximately 99 degrees outside.

The new practices and protocols start at the coaching level. The district has implemented a new process that requires the signature of the school principal and the district athletic director when hiring any new coach. When it comes to hiring high school head football and basketball coaches, a panel of the school principal, school athletic director and district athletic director is required.

All coaches must have current CPR and Automated External Defibrillator training before conducting any activity. Additionally, all middle and high schools have sent a four-person team to undergo Code Blue training for emergency response situations. Code Blue is an term used in hospitals to indicate an emergency situation in which a patient is in cardiopulmonary arrest.

A new platform called DragonFly will be used by the school system to organize student physicals, insurance waivers, concussion and sudden cardiac arrest forms by school and sport. In conjunction, each school is now required to submit certification of signatures by the head coach, school athletic director and school principal that all students participating are cleared to do so.

In addition, each middle and high school is required to have an ongoing calendar showing any out-of-season activity and well as using comprehensive email groups consisting of all principals, athletic directors and head coaches to ensure “consistent communication.”

The school district is hiring four full-time athletic trainers and purchasing “large misting cooling fans” for each stadium, middle and high school.

Lastly, Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WGBT) devices will be used at all elementary schools with physical education teachers testing prior to outside activities.

The WBGT is a measure of heat stress in direct sunlight.

As members of the Georgia High School Association, the district must follow the WBGT heat guidelines for middle and high school athletics.

To learn more about the GHSA regulations, visit www.ghsa.net.

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