Edmonton Public seclusion rooms used over 700 times in first month of the school year

Edmonton Public Schools won’t be phasing out seclusion rooms just yet
WATCH ABOVE: New numbers show seclusion rooms have been used hundreds of times in Alberta since the beginning of the school year. Edmonton Public Schools is exploring the idea of phasing them out, but as Sarah Komadina reports, the board isn't quite ready to set a date for when.

As the Edmonton Public School Board gets set to review its seclusion room policy, a new report shows the controversial practice was used 716 times in the month of September alone.

The former NDP provincial government had moved to ban seclusion rooms starting this school year, but the UCP reversed the decision shortly before the new school year began.

READ MORE: Alberta lifts ban on seclusion rooms in schools, will establish new rules for use

Seclusion rooms are used when students with developmental disabilities act out and are potentially dangerous to their caregivers and teachers.

The report said that out of the 716 times the rooms were used at Edmonton Public schools, in 468 of those cases — or 65 per cent of the time — the student chose to go in as a way of self-managing.

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The other 248 uses were all involving a group of the same 88 students who were placed there as a result of unsafe behaviour.

The EPSB operates 213 schools in the city, with a current total of 137 seclusion rooms currently in operation. There are a total of 105,000 students enrolled in the district.

READ MORE: Parents suing Alberta education officials say son locked naked in seclusion room

Since last spring, the district decommissioned 42 rooms after requests from specific schools to do so. The report said there are requests in from several other schools to also have their rooms decommissioned, which is done by removing the door to the room.

At the end of August, the board chairs and superintendents of the Calgary Board of EducationCalgary Catholic School DistrictEdmonton Catholic Schools and Edmonton Public Schools urged the education minister to reconsider the ban on seclusion rooms in schools across the province.

READ MORE: Alberta school boards call on government to reconsider seclusion room ban

When the UCP repealed the seclusion room ban a week later, it put into place an interim standard for the rooms. However, new final standards are set to be put in place at the end of October after it receives input from provincial stakeholders, including EPSB.

Other stakeholders include Inclusion Alberta, Alberta Teachers’ Association, Alberta School Boards Association, Alberta School Councils’ Association, College of Alberta School Superintendents, and the other metro school boards.

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Edmonton Public is set to discuss the report at their Tuesday, Oct. 8 meeting.

WATCH BELOW: (Aug 29, 2019) The education minister has reversed a ban on seclusion rooms following a plea from Alberta school boards. But it also calls for a lot more work on the issue. Fletcher Kent reports.

Alberta lifts ban on seclusion rooms in schools, will establish new rules for use
Alberta lifts ban on seclusion rooms in schools, will establish new rules for use