SD20 updates restraint policy

The Ministry of Education developed guidelines around physical restraint and seclusion last June.

School District 20 has dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on an updated policy that deals with physical restraint and seclusion in school settings.

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 in response, using the policy as a guideline.

Katherine Shearer, director of instruction for Learning Services, says all staff is required to follow the provincially mandated principles.

“This policy helps to ensure that staff understands the expectations and best practice around responding to behavioural concerns,” Shearer explained.

“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 last June, then sent those recommendations to school districts across the province.

“(The SD20) policy provides some clarity and direction,” Shearer said.

“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 procedures, not treatment, 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 to be 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.

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