In January 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Education initiated a student-injury prevention project for Ontario district school boards.
In a memorandum titled Student Injury Prevention Initiative Funding, George Zegarac, the Deputy Minister of Education, noted that Ontario schools have been described as “some of the safest in the world.”
When accidents do occur in schools, we are reminded of our obligation and ongoing commitment to safety mindedness as well as to compliance with relevant federal, provincial and municipal health and safety legislation and by-laws. This requires school boards to undertake activities that ensure injury prevention is the highest of priorities in schools.
To support school boards in this endeavour, the Ministry allocated one-time funding for student-injury prevention initiatives in the 2012-13 school year and engaged the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) to identify and collate a common set of provincial health and safety practices.
To ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of such a valuable resource, CODE established a Health and Safety Team comprised of leaders in education and health and safety education.
The Ministry’s Student Injury Prevention Initiative is intended to ensure that:
- Students have access to a broad range of hands-on learning experiences using safe equipment in risk-free environments.
- Boards and schools have an up-to-date health and safety plan.
- School staff are safety conscious and have the expertise to address injury
prevention in higher risk subject areas.
This important initiative was spread out over three phases, with the most recent segment (Phase 3) launched in 2016.
This phase asked boards to provide information through online surveys on current policies, procedures and structures that lead to a culture of safety mindedness and student injury prevention.
Phase Three also included the development of long-term school board student injury prevention plans. This key component required boards to prepare system-wide plans that address student injury prevention in a sustained and proactive manner.
Throughout the three phases of SIPI, boards have consistently demonstrated a commitment to student injury prevention. While there is still work to do, the efforts by board staff to ensure that student injury prevention is a high priority is recognized by both CODE and the Ministry of Education.