The incidents are rare. But in the event a student presents imminent danger to self or others, all school staff is expected to know what to do if emergency restraint and/or seclusion procedures need to be implemented.
Those guidelines are the premise behind a new School District 20 (SD20) policy currently under review.
Katherine Shearer, director of instruction for SD20 Learning Services, says all staff are required to follow the provincially mandated principles.
“This policy helps to ensure that staff understand the expectations and best practice around responding to behavioural concerns,” Shearer told the Trail Times. “And incidences where a student’s safety and/or the safety of others is at risk.”
The Ministry of Education developed guidelines around physical restraint and seclusion in school settings last June, then sent respective recommendations to school districts across the province.
“(The SD20) policy provides some clarity and direction,” added Shearer. “I believe the ministry guidelines were created in response to concerns from parents, especially those of children with special needs, around the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools.”
The district’s policy clearly defines physical restraint and seclusion as emergency, not treatment, procedures, that are used only in exceptional circumstances where a student is in imminent danger of causing harm to self or others. And, neither physical restraint nor seclusion procedures are used as punishment, discipline or to force compliance.
Specifically, physical restraint is a method of restricting another person’s freedom of movement or ability in order to secure and maintain the safety of the person or the safety of others. The provision of a ‘physical escort’ (temporary touching or holding of a student’s hand, wrist or arm) does not constitute physical restraint, nor does physical guidance when teaching a skill or redirecting attention.
Seclusion is defined as the involuntary confinement of a person along in a room, enclosure, or space which the person is physically prevented from leaving. “Time out” strategies are excluded from this category.
Trustees addressed the policy during the Nov. 21 board meeting in addition to the development of another new policy that deals with sexual orientation and gender identity.
Once in place, policies are reviewed every three years to ensure the practice is in alignment with guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education.