Schools require batting helmets Carroll elementary pupils playing ball outdoors must wear headgear

October 23, 1997|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Carroll County elementary pupils will be required to wear safety helmets when using wood or metal bats in physical education activities, under guidelines adopted by county school officials.

The rules were recommended by an advisory committee that was formed after a 9-year-old pupil at Freedom Elementary School suffered a serious eye injury last spring when he was hit by a metal bat in gym class.

Bruce Cowan, Carroll's supervisor of physical education and athletics, said that based on his research, Carroll is the only district in the state to require batting helmets for elementary pupils. State education officials could not be reached to confirm his statement.

"This takes safety to another level, but there's no guarantee that someone's not going to get hit again," Cowan said.

The rules take effect immediately. Cowan estimated that each elementary school would probably need about 15 helmets to accommodate two simultaneous baseball or softball games. He said the price of batting helmets ranges from $9 to $16.

The advisory committee's recommendations state that:

The helmets must be used for batters and base runners when metal or wood bats are used in outdoor activities at elementary schools.

Minimum safety standards must be established for each physical education activity.

No metal or wood bats may be used indoors in Carroll County schools.

Only soft balls and soft bats may be used in grades one, two and three.

In staff and pupil softball games, helmets must be worn by batters and base runners, and minimum safety standards must be implemented.

"I'm satisfied with the recommendations," said Angela Stevens, the mother of Matthew Stevens, the fifth-grader at Freedom Elementary School whose left eye was injured last spring.

However, Stevens said she plans to sue the county school system over her son's injury.

According to Stevens, the school system has not followed through on a commitment to cover the costs of Matthew's medical care. She said it amounted to "a few thousand dollars," most of which was covered by insurance.

But Stevens said financial compensation is not her primary reason for filing a lawsuit. She maintains that she's more concerned with the school's response to her son's injury.

"The school didn't file an accident report, I wasn't called, I didn't know anything had happened until he got home from school and his eye was swollen shut," she said.

"After he got hurt and went to the school nurse, they went ahead and sent him on a field trip to Piney Run to spend the whole day on a pontoon boat."

Stevens said that Matthew suffered a hematoma on the orbital area of his left eye socket. Since the accident, his injury has been monitored by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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