|Extreme Heat and Hydration Policy|
The St. Tammany Parish School Board seeks to protect students participating in junior and senior high school athletics, marching band, dance, cheerleading and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) -- henceforth collectively known as “student athletes” -- from heat-related illness or injury while engaged in school-sponsored programs or activities during and after school hours. Heat-related conditions that demand heightened attention include dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The best defense is prevention. Overall strategies for the prevention of exertional heat illnesses include establishing guidelines for the prevention of and response to specific heat-related circumstances and setting required responsibilities of District personnel. Student athletes and staff need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to eliminate serious situations. Extreme caution and necessary steps to protect the student athletes must be followed as outlined in the Superintendent’s Guidelines. It is noted that on occasion there may be singular events that cannot be easily altered due to prior scheduling or date/time constraints (i.e. Louisiana State high school athletic playoffs, contracted games and off-campus band performances) despite the presence of extreme heat. When time permits, the involved school’s principal should consult with the Superintendent or her designee before participation in the activity. Although physical education, recess and field trips include exposure to heat, their duration is typically short. Thus, general guidelines for this Policy will exclude these events. District personnel are expected to exercise decisive awareness and implement precautions that pertain to heat-related illnesses and hydration during any school activity.
A hydration protocol which includes hydration and rehydration strategies that considers individual sport dynamics (rest breaks, fluid access), environmental factors, acclimatization state, exercise duration, exercise intensity and individual response to heat stress must be established. Instruction in the management of proper hydration along with increasing accessibility will promote the safety of student athletes.
The Superintendent shall be responsible for establishing written procedures and guidelines for physical athletics on days when the temperature and humidity are elevated resulting in a heat index of 90°F or above, thereby increasing the risk of heat illness. To address the potential risks inherent in exposure to increased levels of environmental heat stress, School District personnel will be required to monitor weather conditions and utilize these guidelines and protocols for modifying activities. When warranted, based on the Superintendent’s Extreme Heat and Hydration Guidelines, the on-site heat index will be measured using a scientifically approved heat index measurement instrument prior to the start of and during physical activities at each school. These guidelines are intended for promoting the well-being of student athletes and staff during times of extreme heat conditions by consistently implementing a planned management strategy. Such procedures shall be distributed each year to all school administrators, student athletes and staff involved in physical activities, along with appropriate training.