Looking to minimize risk and maximize student safety, a bill requiring all school districts participating in interscholastic sport programs to adopt the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (NJSIAA) policy for all sports during high heat and humidity was approved 76-0 by the full Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A-4754) would mandate schools to follow the NJSIAA guidelines, which provide criteria to assess weather conditions and determine if it is safe to continue with a scheduled practice or game, stipulating appropriate intervals for hydration and breaks.
Sponsors of the bill, Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Nancy Pinkin, and Angela McKnight released the following statements:
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen): “New Jersey can proudly tout itself as having the most comprehensive health and safety policies for its student athletes. But following last year’s incident in my very own district, where five Bergen Arts and Science Charter School students suffered heat stroke during gym, it is clear there is more work to be done. Under this bill, we can reaffirm New Jersey’s commitment to putting student safety first.”
Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex): “Heat stroke from practicing or playing in hot weather can bring on sudden cardiac arrest, causing otherwise healthy student athletes to suffer. By enacting this legislation, we can arm schools with the appropriate tools and guidelines for safe and responsible action.”
Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson): “Accounting for the intensity of weather, especially during New Jersey’s very hot and humid summer months, is extremely important if we want to do our best to safeguard student well-being. By requiring schools to adopt the NJSIAA’s guidelines, we can hold schools accountable to a set standard.”
Under the legislation, every school athletic and practice field would need to be equipped with a Wet-Build Globe Temperature tool to measure heat stress, which accounts for temperature, humidity, wind speed, angle of the sun and cloud coverage.
The bill was approved 38-0 in the Senate in June 2019 and now heads to the Governor’s desk.