New classroom concussion protocol introduced

NASHUA – The Nashua School District, in a newly developed Concussion Management Committee, presented a presentation for a new “Return to Learn” protocol to the Board of Education Monday night.

The presentation, made by Lisa Gingras, athletic director and Donna Fitzpatrick, assistant superintendent, introduced a protocol for returning to the classroom after a concussion that has been diagnosed by a doctor, regardless of how the concussion was sustained, or whether the student is an athlete.

Currently, the district has a “return to play” protocol for athletics, but not one for the classroom.

This new protocol has an individualized progression through five color-coded stages.

“Concussions are an invisible injury,” Gingras said.

The concussion management team would involve the school nurse, the student and family, teachers, administrators, case managers, health care professionals, school counselors and a neuropsychologist when necessary.

The protocol would involve daily reporting by teachers and the students.

Gingras said the steps are based on whether the symptoms worsen, not whether they go away. Additionally, some students’ timelines could take longer, or less time, and that as an individualized program, it would change on a case-by-case basis.

Stage one, the black stage, involves staying home to rest for one to two days. When the student is able to get up, get ready and go to school, he/she will be ready to move on.

Stage two, the red stage, lasts (generally) for one to five days, and involves no classroom work. The students would sit in class and listen. Once the student can sit in class for one day without symptoms worsening, he/she would move forward.

Stage three, the orange stage, would involve the student completing 50 percent of classwork for two to five days.

Stage four, the yellow stage, would last an additional two to five school days, with the student completing all classwork and homework, but tests can be modified. The student would be able to move on once able to complete full days at school, and can meet with the CMT to start completing makeup work.

The final stage, the green stage, would mean the student was able to complete all work.

The protocol also said that students should not return to full contact play (in athletics) before returning to a full academic load.

Gingras did note, however, that some students may be at various stages of RTL and RTP simultaneously.

This already is happening in the schools to some extent, but the protocol would allow for some consistency.

The goal is for all staff to be trained by next September.

The board voted to move the protocol to the Policy Committee, with the idea that it would come back to the board by the end of March. Meanwhile, the district will continue to educate staff on the protocol.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.