On November 22, 2022, Governor Hochul signed into law Bill S973, which amends the Education Law by requiring private schools to abide by the mandates of the Concussion Management and Awareness Act (“CMAA”) of 2011 – New York’s flagship legislation governing various aspects of concussion protocol in schools. Under the new law, New York private schools must comply with the same concussion management protocols and standards that public schools have followed for the past decade.
Broadly speaking, the CMAA imposes several key requirements. First, schools must provide a course of instruction on concussions and appropriate responses to suspected concussions. This course of instruction must be taken every two years by all school coaches, physical education teachers, nurses and athletic trainers. The course must detail certain topics, such as the definition of a “concussion”, the various signs and symptoms associated with mild traumatic brain injuries and the process for returning to activities following a concussion.
Second, schools must provide information regarding concussions on any parent/guardian consent form which is required for a student’s participation in interscholastic sports. The consent form, like the course of instruction, must define a “concussion,” detail the signs and symptoms of these injuries and provide guidelines for returning to activities following a concussion.
Third, the CMAA imposes a rule that a student must be immediately removed from any further athletic activity when it is believed (s)he sustained a concussion. Even where the school district has doubts as to whether a concussion was sustained, it must err on the side of caution and immediately pull the student from the activity. Further, students suspected to have sustained a concussion must not return to any athletic events until they have seen a physician, been cleared by that physician, and remained symptom-free for at least 24 hours. Lastly, following a student’s concussion, the school must adhere to the recommendations of the physician with regard to reintegration of the student back into classroom and athletic activities.
These requirements are now imposed on private schools as they have been on public schools. The new law provides a bit of ramp up time for private schools, with an effective date of July 1, 2023. Between now and then, private schools should amend practices and procedures that may not already comply with the CMAA. Compliance with the new law should be facilitated by it being in place for public schools for quite some time. While the new law imposes a variety of additional obligations on private schools, getting ahead of the ball and carefully planning for future compliance will go a long way in helping private schools navigate these new mandates.
This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.
Harris Beach has offices throughout New York State, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and Newark, New Jersey.