Seclusion rooms in Alberta schools. Inclusion Alberta

Seclusion rooms in Alberta schools

September 19, 2023

As the school year starts, it is important that parents are aware that the use of seclusion and restraint in schools is allowed by Alberta Education. Inclusion Alberta does not support the use of seclusion or believe that seclusion or restraint should be used as programmatic strategies, and continues to call for a ban on these practices. Seclusion and physical restraint are not teaching strategies and pose significant risk to all children. However, they are still ongoing practices in many schools and as such it is important that parents understand their school’s position on the use of seclusion and restraint.

We encourage all parents of school-aged children, both with an intellectual disability and without, to:

Read CTV Calgary’s November 9th report: ‘Only a last resort’: Inclusion Alberta calls on parents to help close seclusion rooms

Seclusion and restraint: What is it?

According to the Standards for Seclusion and Physical Restraint in Alberta Schools:

  • Seclusion is the involuntary confinement or isolation of a person, alone in a room or area from which the person cannot freely exit or is physically prevented from leaving.
  • A seclusion room is a room, structure or enclosure in a school, the primary purpose of which involves the practice of seclusion.
  • Physical restraint is any method of using physical contact for restricting or immobilizing another person’s freedom of movement, physical activity, or normal access to their body, for the purpose of immobilization or re-establishing behavioural control. Physical restraint does not include physical escort which is brief and directional contact that has the purpose of accompanying and inducing a student to walk to a safe location.

Seclusion rooms: How they’re used

While some school districts have publicly stated that they do not sanction or use them, in other districts the practice remains. We believe seclusion rooms and the practice of seclusion have no place in schools, and no child should, particularly on the basis of their disability, be locked in one. An investment in positive behaviour supports and alternative strategies to support children who are struggling is the only ethical response.

While Alberta Education allows the use of seclusion and physical restraint, there are Standards for how they may be used. We encourage parents and families to read the Standards which stipulate, for example, that:

  • Seclusion can only be used in a crisis or emergency and that a positive behaviour support plan must be in place.
  • Parents must give consent for seclusion and/or restraint to be used on their child and must be informed of any occurrence in a timely manner.
  • If seclusion and/or restraint are to be used in a school, proper staff training must be implemented.

Read the Standards for Seclusion and Physical Restraint in Alberta Schools here.

Read the results of Inclusion Alberta’s Survey on the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools from 2018.

Have a conversation with your school’s Principal

Inclusion Alberta encourages parents of all children, both those with disabilities and those without, to speak to the Principal of their child’s school about the use of seclusion and restraint in the school. Some things you might want to talk about:

  • Ask if the school has a seclusion room.
  • If yes, ask to see it.
  • Ask to see the district policies on the use of seclusion and physical restraint and verify if they are in compliance with the provincial standards for their use.
  • If there is a seclusion room, let them know that they do not have your permission or consent to place your child in the room.
  • Ask the Principal how they are supporting staff to access professional learning opportunities in implementing positive and proactive strategies to reduce the need for crisis response strategies.
  • Explain that many school districts in Alberta no longer use seclusion rooms and ask if they will commit to decommissioning their seclusion room.

Seclusion Rooms in Alberta Schools Questionnaire

In an effort to strengthen our continued advocacy to have a ban on the use of seclusion and restraint in Alberta’s schools, we would appreciate if you shared with us how your conversation at the school went. Please take 2 minutes to fill out this short questionnaire. Participation in the survey is voluntary. All of the information that you provide will be treated as confidential and will only be used by authorized Inclusion Alberta staff to research the use of seclusion rooms in schools. We will only contact you if we have follow up questions regarding the survey material.

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE (Microsoft Forms survey)