Province releases review of outdoor education policies after student's death
Jeremiah Perry is seen in this undated photo.
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, May 18, 2018 4:17PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2018 4:19PM EDT
TORONTO -- A review of outdoor education polices at Ontario schools boards, which was launched after a Toronto teen drowned on a school trip, has recommended boards develop guidelines for monitoring compliance with safety procedures.
It also recommended the creation of a support centre that would give staff standardized access to information on safety guidelines and other resources.
The report conducted by Deloitte for the province was presented to the Toronto District School Board this week.
Jeremiah Perry, a student at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, disappeared under the water on July 15 after going for a swim with other students during a school-run canoe trip in Algonquin Park. His body was found a day later by search and rescue divers.
After the teen's death, the school board said he and 15 other students on the trip had not passed a required swim test.
The Toronto District School Board has since implemented new procedures that include school principals having to see a list of students who pass or fail a required swim test before a trip, and parents having to be notified of results.
The third-party review was commissioned by the province last August.
It said almost all the school boards examined met the minimum standards for risk management practices, including swim test requirements, supervision ratios and instructor certification. However, the report noted the degree to which boards align with Ontario's physical education safety guidelines in their polices and procedures varies.
"Interview and focus group participants suggested this variability stems from a lack of direction on a standardized approach," the report said.
The review recommended boards develop guidelines for monitoring school compliance with safety policies.
"School boards should provide clear parameters for the consistent monitoring of requirements for outdoor education and excursions by schools ..." the report said. "The monitoring process should be supported by board-wide standardized tools and templates, checklists and associated protocols to enable schools to monitor and report on their results and adherence."
The report also said the recommendation to create a centralized policy support centre came from staff who expressed interest in more direction from the Ministry of Education.
"A policy implementation support centre would address the above by ensuring all schools and school boards have equal access to standardized information through centrally available sources," the report said.
It also suggested school boards identify training needs of staff by examining their level of expertise in outdoor education.