Alberta schools will soon have specific rules on how to use calming and seclusion rooms to safeguard the safety of all students and school staff.
“Everyone involved in a school shares the same priority: to have a safe, caring and inclusive environment for everyone. Since becoming minister, I have received numerous letters from our partners in the school system – including the Alberta Teachers’ Association – asking me to rethink the former government’s short-sighted approach to seclusion rooms and student safety. In fact, almost every stakeholder I encountered on this issue – school boards, teachers, administrators and parents – clearly 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.”Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
“After careful consideration and a lot of listening to those directly affected, I have decided to move forward together with our partners in a more measured way, which is the right thing to do for the right reason. I understand the urgency of this work, which is why I have directed my department to work immediately with our partners, such as school boards, Inclusion Alberta and the Alberta Teachers’ Association, to finalize how this tool can be used and how the system will be held accountable.”Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
The new standards will be in place by the end of October. Until then, interim standards for seclusion and time out are in effect, as directed by ministerial order.
The standards will be finalized with input from key partners including Inclusion Alberta, Alberta Teachers’ Association, Alberta School Boards Association, Alberta School Councils’ Association, College of Alberta School Superintendents and the four metro school boards.
To ensure accountability, the minister will also require school authorities to provide the Ministry of Education with a monthly report, on a per school basis, on the use of seclusion rooms.
The current ministerial order that bans seclusion rooms as of Sept. 1 is repealed.
“The previous ban on seclusion rooms allowed for exemptions to be approved for entire school districts, when exemptions should only be granted for specific and time-limited individual circumstances under provincial standards and enforceable measures of accountability. Standards must prohibit the use of locked or forced confinement and, as such, we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Minister LaGrange in the development of new standards that will ensure Alberta students with disabilities are always positively supported and safe at school.”Barb MacIntyre, president, Inclusion Alberta
“The association is strongly supportive of inclusion, stressing the importance of having in place the necessary resources and supports for inclusion to work well for all students and staff. As part of a positive behaviour supports plan – developed in collaboration with parents and teachers – some students may require interventions to regulate behaviour and ensure student safety. We believe the ministry and school authorities should develop comprehensive policies that will assist school leaders, teachers, parents and the public to better understand the circumstances and processes that should be employed if non-voluntary time out is necessary.”Jason Schilling, president, Alberta Teachers’ Association
“The Alberta School Boards Association appreciates being heard. We look forward to working with the government to update the guidelines pertaining to seclusion rooms to ensure the well-being of all students.”Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards Association
“Parents from across the province passed policy at the Alberta School Councils’ Association April Annual General Meeting on seclusion rooms, indicating that clear policies and regulations on proper design, structure, staff training and accountability measures are established, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, for the use of seclusion rooms in Alberta schools. This opportunity will enable us to contribute our members’ perspectives.”Allison Pike, president, Alberta School Councils’ Association
“The College of Alberta School Superintendents supports the rescinding of the ministerial order that banned seclusion rooms and looks forward to participating in the development of standards for time out and seclusion in Alberta schools. It is paramount that the standards ensure that the dignity and respect of all students are protected, and also enable school authorities to provide a safe environment for all students and staff.”Bevan Daverne, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents
“I am grateful the Minister of Education listened to the feedback she’s received from the four metro school boards. The conversation about seclusion rooms is important to our board, as well as families, parents and staff. We are eager to be part of those discussions over the next two months.” Trisha Estabrooks, chair, Board of Trustees, Edmonton Public Schools
“We look forward to being a part of the Alberta Education panel to develop standards for seclusion rooms. Edmonton Catholic Schools does not have any seclusion rooms but it is important to be a part of this conversation to develop new standards that ensure the continued safety of students and staff in our schools.”Laura Thibert, chair, Board of Trustees, Edmonton Catholic Schools
“The Calgary Board of Education thanks the minister for her timely response. The minister’s decision allows us to start the school year with clarity and consistency in our schools. We look forward to working collaboratively with Alberta Education to build new standards to help ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.”Marilyn Dennis, chair, Board of Trustees, Calgary Board of Education
“We appreciate Minister LaGrange’s careful consideration of this matter and listening to the needs of our schools. This decision will allow us to support our most complex students while maintaining safe, caring, and respectful learning environments for all students and staff.”Mary Martin, chair, Board of Trustees,Calgary Catholic School Division