Below is a list of questions that are frequently asked by our members related to Safety Plans. For further information, members can visit the ETFO Health and Safety Website or contact Vice President Jeff Pelich.
What is a Safety Plan?
The student safety plan is developed for students whose behaviours are known to pose an ongoing risk of physical injury to him or herself, staff and others in the school community. The safety plan is designed to protect the student and others from physical harm related to these risks.
Developing a Safety Plan
How do I know if a Safety Plan is needed?
ETFO Waterloo advocates that Safety Plans must be developed when a violent incident has occurred and is likely to occur again. As well, when the WRDSB Incident/Accident Report Form has been completed, the development of a Safety Plan is one of the actions an administrator should take place before the child returns to the classroom.
Should a student be at school as the Safety Plan is being developed?
While a safety plan is being developed, no worker should be expected to come in contact with the student. Past WRDSB practice has shown that many administrators will either keep the child in their office or have the child remain at home until the plan is complete and shared with staff.
If there is a student in your classroom who is violent and safety plan is not yet developed, please contact Vice President Jeff Pelich for support.
How long should it reasonably take for a Safety Plan to be developed?
Ensuring the safety of all workers must be a priority for an administrator. A safety plan can be developed in 1-3 working days when there is a will to do so.
I'm feeling unsafe due to a violent student but my administration refuses or has yet to develop a Safety Plan. What should I do?
All employees are required to report unsafe working conditions directly to their administrator. Therefore, members are advised to share their concerns in writing as soon as possible.
Below is a sample message you may send to your admin:
“Due to the ongoing violent incidents associated with [student name], I feel unsafe in my work environment. In accordance with WRDSB procedure AP 2330 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, I am requesting a Safety Plan be developed to support the behaviour needs of this child.”
You can add this section as well:
“I would ask that the child remains out of the classroom until this plan is collaboratively developed and communicated."
Who is responsible for the development of a Safety Plan?
The school administrator is responsible for the development of the Safety Plan. However, the process must be collaborative in nature with all staff who directly work with the child being consulted in the creation. On many occasions, the homeroom teacher or Special Education Resource Teacher input the information into the Safety Plan document.
It is especially important that the school administrator remains involved throughout the Safety Planning process. The WRDSB uses the Safety Plan to meet the requirement of a workplace Risk Assessment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Therefore, they must remain an integral part its creation. As well, paraprofessional schedules often change due to the requirements of a safety plan. As administrators are responsible for scheduling staff within a school, it is imperative that these changes are not made by teaching staff.
The Safety Plan Document
What should be included in a Safety Plan?
The WRDSB Safety Plan is developed in S4S. The main document includes:
- An overview of the student;
- Specific behaviours observed;
- Triggers which have been identified;
- Preventative strategies to limit violent incidents;
- Nonviolent interventions - step-by-step response of responding to escalating violent behaviours that do not result in physical contact with the child;
- Physical Interventions - a step-by-step response of responding to escalating violent behaviours that result in physical contact with the child (including blocks, contain and release, etc.)
Do you have a sample of a Safety Plan?
Yes! This Google Doc is a sample of a Safety Plan that has been vetted by ETFO. As there is not one correct way to write a Safety Plan, members can send the Safety Plan (with all identifiable student information removed) to Vice President Jeff Pelich for review and feedback.
What role should ETFO members play in a Nonphysical or Physical Intervention?
Teachers play a supportive role in the Safety Plan. This can include but is not limited to:
- Using the preventative strategies included on the safety plan;
- Calling for assistance and evacuating the class due to violent behaviours;
- Staying with their students during a classroom evacuation;
- Remaining out of the physical proximity of a student while paraprofessionals take the primary role in a physical intervention.
Can ETFO members contain-and-release/restrain a child?
ETFO members are advised to use a contain-and-release or restraint only in emergency situations where a child's behaviour poses an imminent risk to self or others. However, ETFO members should not be listed in a safety plan as a primary role for these types of physical interventions.
Can ETFO members be instructed in a Safety Plan to wear personal protective equipment?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should only be used as a last resort. Therefore, ETFO advocates that PPE is not to be worn by classroom teachers. Past practice has dictated that the WRDSB will contact ETFO when there are situations where PPE may be required.
If you are being asked to wear Personal Protective Equipment, please contact Vice President Jeff Pelich immediately.
Sharing of the Safety Plan
Who is responsible for sharing the Safety Plan?
The school administrator must share the safety plan with all required staff and ensure they sign to acknowledge that they have reviewed the plan.
With whom should a Safety Plan be shared?
A Safety Plan must be shared with all employees who will come into contact with the child as part of their job. This includes all planning time teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff. When student privacy is a concern, the administrator may provide a condensed version of the Safety Plan (accessed via S4S).
ETFO Provincial Advice
The following PRS Matters documents provide further information regarding workplace violence.