‘More measured way:’ Alberta government repeals ban on school seclusion rooms

Government repeals ban on school seclusion rooms

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservatives have repealed a ban on seclusion rooms in schools that was brought in by the previous NDP government over concerns the rooms were traumatizing students with developmental disabilities.

The ban on isolation rooms, which are meant to give disruptive students a place to settle down, was to take effect next week.

“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,” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said.

“School boards, teachers, administrators and parents clearly tell me that a full ban limits a school’s ability to protect the safety of everyone.”

LaGrange said new standards for the use of isolation rooms are to be in place by the end of October and interim guidelines should be followed until then.

Those guidelines say seclusion and physical restraint are only to be used when children’s behaviour could be harmful to themselves or to others. They also say seclusion rooms are meant to handle a crisis, not to manage day-to-day behaviour.

The new rules will be finalized with input from a number of groups, including the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the four school boards in the province’s two largest cities and Inclusion Alberta, a family-based organization that works on behalf of children and adults with developmental disabilities.

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