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Staff Report Blocker Sheilds

Staff Report Blocker Sheilds

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Published by Caroline Smith
SCDSB staff report on consultation on Blocker Shields
SCDSB staff report on consultation on Blocker Shields

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Published by: Caroline Smith on Jun 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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13, 2012_ __ __ TO: The Chairperson and Members of theProgram Standing CommitteeFROM: Superintendent of EducationSUBJECT:
CONSULTATION AND REVIEW OF THE USE OF FOAM PADS(BLOCKER SHIELDS) ____________________________________ 1. Background
At the March 28, 2012, regular meeting of the Board, it was approved that the Boardrefer the issue identified by the SEAC motion as set out in Report No. D-3-a, SpecialEducation Advisory Committee - Time Sensitive Motion – March 19, 2012, (APPENDIXA) to senior staff to review the concerns raised regarding the use of blocker shields withstudents, to consult with SEAC, parents, staff, and the Joint Health and SafetyCommittee, and to seek input from community partners and to prepare a report updatingthe Program Standing Committee in June 2012.
2. Current Status
Concerns regarding the use of foam pads were first expressed in March 2012 when aphotograph taken anonymously of staff carrying the foam pads while accompanyingstudents on a regular community excursion was shared with a media member andposted to Twitter and then shortly afterwards shown at the March 19, 2012 SpecialEducation Advisory Committee Meeting.Staff has used different forms of foam pads since the spring of 2010 to support safetyfrom time to time involving a small number of students in a small number of schools. Thevast majority of students with special needs, including those with autism acceptresponsibility for a safe learning environment and are held accountable for their actions.However, a very small number of students have uncontrollable behaviours that aredirectly related to their diagnosed medical, neurological or developmental condition and,in some cases, these behaviours can present an on-going safety risk, including a risk ofinjury to themselves or others.The provision of special education programs and services to students by school boardsis subject to the
Ontario Human Rights Code 
and the
Canadian Charter of Rights 
, which protect students from discrimination on the basis of disability. The
requires that students with disabilities be accommodated to the point of unduehardship in the provision of educational services, such that each student must beprovided with an individualized program, that maximizes the students’ integration withpeers and respects the student’s dignity. Boards accommodate students by providingindividualized programming and instruction from qualified, trained staff, in anenvironment modified to meet the student’s needs.The
Occupational Health and Safety Act 
Education Act 
require that employers(school boards) and supervisors (school principals) assess risks to safety regularly andrespond to reduce risks for all students and staff. This might require providing workers(school staff) with the training and procedures to help control the identified risks.
REPORT NO. PRO-I-2JUNE 13, 2012_- 2 ___ The
Occupational Health and Safety Act 
also requires that, where these safety risks canbe eliminated or reduced through the use or wearing of personal protective equipment(PPE), this equipment must be provided and used by staff.Protective equipment in schools includes equipment, devices, or clothing to protect astudent or staff member from injury during the course of daily activities. It is specific to astaff member’s need for protection when working with particular students. Examplesinclude, but are not limited to, the following: lifting equipment for students with mobilityissues, helmets for student head protection, special sleeves and shin guards forprotection against pinching, biting, and kicking, padded vests or shields for protectionagainst punches, eye/face guards for protection from bodily fluids, padded mats toprotect a student from self-injury against walls or a staff member from hits and kicks, andhair nets for protection against grabs and pulls. Behaviour Management Systems (BMS)recently sent a survey to their key contacts in school boards asking about their use offoam protective shields. Of the 21 surveys returned, three boards confirmed that theyuse “blocker shields” and seven boards stated that they use some form of foam blockerssuch as individual gym mats. Protective equipment allows the student to attend andbenefit from a school program.The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) has provided staff with acomprehensive range of training related to Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) over thepast five years (APPENDIX B). These training sessions for administrators, teachers andeducational assistants have been offered at central locations including the EducationCentre, as well as site-based Professional Development at schools. In addition, theSCDSB has partnered with Kinark to offer after-school sessions for parents and teacherson a variety of topics. In cooperation with the Mother Risk FASD Clinic at the Sick KidsHospital, a training session was offered to staff who then had the opportunity to providefeedback on their resource for educators. The Board has also provided between 20 and30 spaces for Geneva Centre training each summer for the past five years. This year,two SCDSB staff members have had proposals accepted by the Geneva Centre toprovide Summer Institute training.In order to address issues regarding injurious behaviour, the Board has utilized theprotocol and training model developed by Behaviour Management Systems (BMS), anorganization that provides training to support school based staff and other educatorswho must address injurious behaviour exhibited by students. BMS describes the stagesof its protocol as follows:“The primary emphasis is prevention and non-physical interventions.Knowing the child, acting on early warning signs, and the effective use ofcalming and de-escalation techniques are some key strategies. Thesecondary emphasis is defensive techniques (avoidance, releases,blocks) coupled with calming and de-escalation techniques. The tertiaryemphasis is safe restraint methods (an absolute last resort rarely requiredby most staff) coupled with calming and de-escalation techniques.”When students with complex needs present with behaviours that cause a safety concerntowards themselves and others, school staff implement two sets of strategies andinterventions. The first strategy implemented is to attempt to understand the function ofthe behaviour and the second strategy used is to manage the behaviour in a way thatmaximizes safety. Strategies used to understand behaviour include tracking of behaviourusing the Functional Behaviour Analysis (FBA) approach.
REPORT NO. PRO-I-2JUNE 13, 2012 – 3____ This attempts to highlight the triggers or antecedents and the consequences of aparticular behaviour. When the purpose of the behaviour can be identified, theenvironment and the program may be adjusted to reduce the incidence of the behaviour.For example, a FBA approach often demonstrates that a student responds well to aroutine and predictable schedule and therefore transitions within the school day arecarefully planned to reduce student anxiety and agitation. In some circumstances, it isvery difficult to either identify the conditions that may lead to a particular behaviour or tochange the environment in such a way that the behaviour is eliminated. If a studentdemonstrates escalated behaviour that can cause a risk of injury, staff typically respondby providing the student with space and allowing him/her time to de-escalate. Thisstrategy is successful in many situations. In some circumstances, with a small numberof students, this strategy is not successful, and situations result with studentsdemonstrating potentially injurious behaviour towards themselves and others.In the SCDSB, we train staff using BMS for the management of student behaviour. TheBMS approach includes defensive techniques such as attempts to avoid or blockpunches or kicks and other behaviours using their bodies. This protocol also includesthe use of physical restraints as an option when this defensive approach will not work orwhere the student behaviour is presenting other risks. The use of protective equipmentis also included in the BMS protocol. While these interventions are usually successful inmanaging the behaviour to ensure safety, some students do not respond to thisapproach for a variety of reasons.Attempting a physical restraint can further escalate the behaviour of some students andmake such a restraint difficult and potentially unsafe. Our protocol emphasizes usingphysical restraint (only as a last resort) for a short period and then releasing. In somecases, this process needs to be continued for a long period of time, which presents therisk of injury to the student and to the staff members performing the restraint. Inaddition, we have some students whose size and strength means that physical restraintsare neither effective nor possible. With a small number of students foam pads havebeen effective as an alternative to physical restraint, by allowing the student to de-escalate while preventing self-injurious behaviour. For example, some students withcomplex needs may hit their head on the wall or floor. The pads are sometimes used tocushion a blow to the head. In other circumstances, foam pads are used to block hits,kicks, and thrown objects to keep staff and others relatively protected when the student’sbehaviour is highly escalated. As with other forms of intervention, the use of foam padsis discontinued when the injurious behaviours are eliminated or minimized.For all students who have presented with these types of behaviours there has been ahigh level of involvement by school special education staff, central board staff, and insome cases community supports and external health professionals. There is always afocus on understanding the function of the behaviour so that the program and theenvironment can be adjusted to reduce or replace the behaviours of concern. Theprocess of collecting and analysing data through Behaviour Logs and FBAs, adjustingprograms, and working with parents and others to stabilize behaviour is on-going and allinterventions are reviewed and monitored regularly. When an intervention is no longerrequired, it is discontinued as part of the process of the review of Individual EducationPlans (IEPs) and Safety Plans.

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