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Seclusion rooms to be allowed in Alta. schools
The Alberta government is repealing a ban on seclusion rooms in schools and promising it will introduce new, specific rules on their use across the province by the end of October.
"Everyone involved in a school shares the same priority: to have a safe, caring and inclusive environment for everyone," Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in a release. "Almost every stakeholder I encountered on this issue ... clearly tell me that a full ban limits a school's ability to protect the safety of everyone."
The province is also repealing the previous provincial government's ban on seclusion rooms that was to take effect on Sunday.
"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," she said in the release.
LaGrange says the province will work with school boards, Inclusion Alberta, and the Alberta Teachers' Association to develop the new regulations.
"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."
The province says the new rules will come into effect by the end of October. Individual schools will also have to provide the ministry with a monthly report on the use of seclusion rooms.
"It's great to have clarity," said Trisha Estabrooks with the Edmonton Public School Board. "School starts in just a few days and we needed the clarity and that certainty heading into the first day of school."
Last week, the province's four largest school boards all released a joint statement asking the government to reconsider its policy upholding the prior government's ban. The province initially rejected the appeal before today's announcement.
The ban on seclusion rooms was put in place by the prior New Democrat government in March after concerns from parents.
For now, interim standards are in place for use of the rooms. The rules specify that the rooms can only be used for safety issues and not as a punishment.
With files from Bill Fortier