Lanyard use suspended

The Red Deer Public School District has suspended the use of lanyards in all schools after an accident in Calgary on Wednesday.


Advocate staff

The Red Deer Public School District has suspended the use of lanyards in all schools after an accident in Calgary on Wednesday.

A Grade 3 student was found unconscious with a lanyard around his neck, minutes after signing out to use the washroom at Bearspaw School.

The lanyard got caught in the stall door and choked him.

A teacher who performed CPR is credited with saving his life.

He was taken to the Alberta Children’s Hospital and is in stable, but critical, condition.

The RCMP has ruled out foul play.

On Friday, Alberta Minister of Education Jeff Johnson issued a moratorium on non-breakaway lanyard use in all Alberta schools. Lanyards are cords typically worn around the neck, to carry an identification tag or some other documentation.

Kim Capstick, press secretary for the minister, said the ministry also requested that all school districts review their lanyard policies. She said there is an opportunity to learn from the accident, and make Alberta’s schools safer.

Lanyard policy is made at the school and district level.

Piet Langstraat, superintendent of Red Deer Public School District, said he sent a message on Monday morning to all schools in the district, discontinuing lanyard use until a review is undertaken.

“Unfortunately, it’s those type of incidents that bring us to review our procedures,” he said.

Lanyards are used in some Red Deer schools for a variety of reasons, such as hall passes to go to the washroom. Policy is left up to individual schools, and Langstraat said he isn’t sure how many schools in the district use them. They have, however, been in use for a number of years at all grade levels.

Langstraat said the administration will look at the best practices regarding lanyards in schools.

This review will determine at what age students will be allowed lanyards, what they are used for, and what sort of lanyards are permitted.

“One of the things we need to talk about is the use of breakaway lanyards,” Langstraat said.

As for developing an actual lanyard policy or procedure, he said that this is up to the board of trustees.

Jeanne Davis with Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools said that none of the Catholic schools use lanyards for any official purpose.

“We don’t have a specific policy on use of lanyards,” she said.

Individual schools set their own policies, and generally use a pass system for signing out students. However, lanyards have not been proposed for these systems, Davis said.

As a result of the incident, all Catholic schools have been advised against lanyard use, in case it was under contemplation.

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