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PIAA requires comprehensive physicals for Pa. student athletes

Some districts have decided not to provide physicals for the 2008-09 school year

Some districts have decided not to provide physicals for the 2008-09 school year

July 24, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- New regulations from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) are changing how student-athletes get physicals.

Prior to this school year, students needed to get a physical or recertification before each sports season, Chambersburg athletic director Don Folmar said. Now, they'll have to get one "comprehensive" exam each year, he said.

"Starting June 1, they went statewide saying the comprehensive physical is the only physical the PIAA will accept," Folmar told the Chambersburg Area School Board on Wednesday.

With that comes increased liabilities for schools and physicians, Folmar said.

Folmar said the Waynesboro Area and Greencastle-Antrim school districts already decided to not provide physicals for students in the 2008-09 school year. The responsibility to get comprehensive physicals will be on families.

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Chambersburg recently hosted a day of physicals and served 724 students from Chambersburg Area Senior High School and Faust Junior High School, Folmar said.

"We don't know how many to expect on the makeup day," he said.

The school board must decide whether to offer physicals in the 2009-10 school year or put the responsibility on the teenagers and their parents. The physicals are mandatory before students can play.

Folmar said that he, coaches and staff are concerned because the comprehensive physicals cost $140 and might be too much for some families to afford.

"It'd be a shame if those kids couldn't participate just because they don't have a physical," Folmar said.

Folmar said preliminary talks are under way regarding some area physicians offering discounted or free services for low-income families. The district currently spends $10,500 per year for physicals, on-field coverage and halftime "clinics" for athletes with physical needs, he said.

The board asked Folmar to return in early 2009 for further discussion.

Nurse's office

In other business, the board learned that the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pennsylvania State Education Association now require that a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse administer all student medications regardless of whether they're prescription. Also, a physician's order will be required for over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl and "even a cough drop," said Penny Shives, chairwoman of the health services department.

"It's going to create - as you can imagine - quite an uproar," Shives said.

Shives said that the RN or LPN now could lose his or her license for administering medications without a doctor's order.

"This is something that's across the state, that all 501 districts will be doing," Shives said.

The board approved a form that doctors can use to request students receive prescription or nonprescription medication during school hours.

Also, the board changed the part-time LPN position at the high school to full time. In a letter requesting the change, Shives said the LPN serves 1,800 students and has upwards of 100 visits to the health room daily, not including the students who receive medications every day for conditions such as diabetes and attention-deficit disorder.

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