School board working to keep schools safe

·2 min read

The Near North District School Board (NNDSB) is working to make school environments safer for students and staff. During their September 13th meeting, board members were presented with a new report outlining “the safe school framework,” the board explained in a recent release.

Vice-Chair John Cochrane had requested the report this past spring “after the multiple violent incidents at schools in the United States,” the board explained. Superintendent Gay Smylie presented the report to the board and emphasized the three pillars “under which programs and initiatives fall,” which are “citizenship and community, conflict resolution, and bullying awareness.”

Board Chair Jay Aspin said, “in view of serious incidents in today’s society, particularly at schools in the United States, we must be diligent in ensuring the safety and well-being of students in our schools.” As the board emphasized, “safe, welcoming and accepting learning environments are built, they don’t just exist.”

To create these environments, the board is making safety “a serious priority,” Aspin said. How so? The board is drawing on support from their partnerships with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the OPP, each of which has resources to offer to help with training for teachers.

The North Bay Police Service is providing “a liaison officer to support education initiatives” as well, including “bullying awareness campaigns.” North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is assisting with public health campaigns “related to cannabis use among youth and the dangers of vaping.”

Amelia Rising North Bay and the Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services are “providing students and families with access to victim services” and are also providing resources “about healthy relationships, consent, abuse, and how to seek help.”

Lessons will also be provided to ensure students “cultivate safety and inclusivity in their class, school and communities,” and staff will also receive “training in violence prevention and de-escalation.”

Eight schools will participate in a conflict resolution program that teaches students to Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out and Seek Help (WITS). If this pilot program goes well, the board might implement it in other schools. The board also noted that “vape detectors” will be installed “at one secondary school to measure the impact it has on vaping in school washrooms.”

Vice-Chair Cochrane mentioned he is “grateful” for the report, and the work being done to ensure safety within the schools. “The team is constantly striving to make staff and students feel safe, welcome and included while they are involved in school-related activities.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca