The seclusion room ban has been lifted in Alberta schools, and specific rules on how to use the rooms will be implemented by the end of October.
“In Rocky View Schools (RVS), we want all our students to experience welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments,” said RVS Superintendent of Greg Luterbach.
RVS no longer have any rooms that fit the definition of a seclusion room.
“A seclusion room is defined as a room, structure or enclosure in a school operated by a school authority. The primary purpose or use of which involves the involuntary confinement or isolation of a student where the student is prevented or incapable of evacuating from the room, structure or enclosure without the assistance of another person because security measures are not under the student’s control,” Luterbach said.
The former NDP Government had issued a seclusion room ban in March, which would be effective in the fall of this year. However, the ban was repealed on Sept. 1.
When the original ban was announced, RVS found that there were a few spaced that could be considered a seclusion room or space. However, the spaces were not being used.
“By the end of the last school year those spaces were modified so that anyone has the ability to exit a space under their own control,” Luterbach said.
“Everyone involved in a school shares the same priority: to have a safe, caring and inclusive environment for everyone,” said the Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange.
Since becoming minister, LaGrange has received numerous letters from partners in the school system, including the Alberta Teachers’ Association asking her to rethink the previous approach to seclusion rooms and student’s safety.
“In fact, almost every stakeholder I encountered on this issue, school boards, teachers, administrators, and parents tell me that a full ban limits a school’s ability to protect the safety of everyone, and to work in partnership to revise the existing policy,” LaGrange said.
However, after listening to Albertans who are directly affected, LaGrange has decided to move forward with partners, including school boards.
“I understand the urgency of this work, which is why I have directed my department to work immediately with our partners, to finalize how this tool can be used and how the system will be held accountable,” LaGrange said.
The new standards will be in place by the end of October and will be finalized with the input of partners including Inclusion Alberta, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Alberta School Boards Association, Alberta School Councils’ Association, College of Alberta School Superintendents and the four metro school boards.
School authorities are also required to provide LaGrange with a monthly report on the use of seclusion rooms which will ensure accountability.
In April, parents passed a policy at the Alberta School Councils’ Association during the April Annual General Meeting (AGM), on seclusion rooms indicating that clear policies and regulations regarding proper design, structure, staff training, and accountability measures are established.
The President of the Alberta Schools councils’ Association, Allison Pike added, “This opportunity will enable us to contribute our members’ perspectives.”