Seclusion rooms will be banned in Alberta when children head back to school after summer break.
Education Minister David Eggen will issue a ministerial order next week to put a ban on the controversial practice for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.
“As I have stated, I am deeply concerned by some of the things that parents and students are sharing about their family’s experiences with seclusion rooms,” Eggen wrote Friday to a working group reviewing the practice.
‘We can and must do better for our kids. That is why I am making the move to ban the use of seclusion rooms in Alberta through a ministerial order. This means that all seclusion rooms must be decommissioned by the 2019-2020 school year.”
Eggen told the working group he would also ensure mechanisms are in place to hold school authorities accountable to government for decommissioning seclusion rooms.
In October, Eggen formed the working group of parents, teachers and other experts to create guidelines on the use of timeout and seclusion rooms.
The review was launched after a Sherwood Park couple sued the government. They say their 12-year-old son was found covered in his own feces when he was locked in a seclusion room.
Last week, the mother joined Inclusion Alberta, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, at a news conference where they criticized the draft guidelines and called for a ban.
On Friday, officials with Inclusion Alberta praised Eggen’s decision, with the group’s CEO Trish Bowman saying the ban makes Alberta a national leader on the issue.
The agency’s president, Barb McIntyre, called it a “day to celebrate.”
“It will no longer be possible for young children to be locked in solitary confinement when at school, or for their parents to be filled with worry when they send their children to school,” she said in a news release.
Premier Rachel Notley said it will now be a question of working with school boards to ensure that they have “what they need to ensure safety of other students and staff.”
Notley added: “The use of seclusion rooms is just not something that I personally can accept.”
Liberal Leader David Khan said the government should enact the ban immediately and not wait until September.
Both Edmonton school boards said on Friday that they will review the order before determining how to find alternate ways to ensure safety for staff and students.