In a watershed decision, a bill regulating when students can return to the classroom and to athletics after a suffering a concussion passed the House in Illinois. The bill now moves on to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk.
According to an article in the State Journal-Register, The bill was passed all but unanimously (the vote was 104-1, with with Rep. David Leitch, R-Peoria, the only no vote). Leitch said he thinks the bill is too expansive and some districts might have trouble implementing the measures.
Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, sponsored Senate Bill 7 in the House. According to the provisions of the bill, students who had suffered a concussion would need to be cleared by a doctor before returning to either schoolwork or athletics. It also requires school districts to have a plan in place in case a student suffers a concussion.
Mitchell said the effects of concussions are not always readily apparent, and the bill is a step in the right direction for evaluating head injuries.
"This was something that needed to happen, and I'm glad it's happening now," he said.
The bill is not backed by any legal or financial mandates, but Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat and the Senate sponsor of the bill, has said it is possible that schools that do not comply would be liable in a civil lawsuit.
Raoul sponsored the bill after his 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter each suffered concussions this year. The bill originally only addressed returning to athletics, but it was amended in April to include academics.
High schools currently follow Illinois High School Association protocol for concussions on the field. Senate Bill 7 covers elementary and middle schools as well.
According to A.T. Still University Athletic Training, that there are an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions a year in the United States; however, this number may be underestimated as concussions frequently are unrecognized or go untreated.