JFCL-R: Physical Restraint and Seclusion of Students

J: Students



The Board policy and regulation for the physical restraint and seclusion of students is aligned with the BC Ministry of Education Provincial Guidelines for Physical Restraint and Seclusion in School Settings, June 2015. The Board does not support the use of seclusion.


Physical Guidance: is the prompting of a student when teaching a skill, redirecting attention, or providing comfort. Physical guidance does not constitute physical restraint.

Physical Escort:is temporary touching or holding of a student’s hand, wrist, arm, shoulder or back for the purpose of accompanying and inducing a student who is acting out to walk to a safe location. Physical escort does not constitute physical restraint.

Physical Restraint: is a method of restricting another person’s freedom of movement or mobility in order to secure and maintain the safety of the person or the safety of others.

Seclusion: is the involuntary confinement of a person, alone in a room, enclosure or space from which the person is physically prevented from leaving.

Behaviour strategies, such as time out (removal from an apparent reinforcing setting to a presumably non-reinforcing setting for a specified and limited period of time), used for social reinforcement as part of a behaviour plan, are not considered seclusion.  The term seclusion does not apply where a student has personally requested to be in a different/secluded location or space.


District Responsibilities

The District shall:

  1. Provide opportunities for district and school staff to acquire the training necessary to conduct Functional Behaviour Assessments, write Individual Education Plans, Positive Behaviour Support Plans and Employee Safety Plans.
  2. Provide opportunities for district and school staff to acquire the training necessary to work with students in situations where there is a potential for behaviour that presents a danger to self or others.
  3. Notify the Superintendent’s designate when physical restraint has been used by a school employee in response to an incident which may require additional district support.
  4. Have a process and schedule for regular review of the physical restraint procedures to ensure alignment with current research/practice.

School Responsibilities

The school based case manager and classroom teacher(s) together with other members of the team (e.g. administrator(s), support staff, members of the Learning Services team) will:

  1. Investigate underlying causes of behavioural incidents (e.g., Functional Behaviour Assessment, analysis, interview).
  2. Develop an appropriate plan of intervention (e.g., Individual Education Plan, Positive Behaviour Support Plan, Employee Safety Plan); this may also involve an Inter-Ministerial Case Meeting.
  3. Monitor the plan of intervention on an ongoing basis, and revise as necessary.
  4. Notify the Director of Instruction (Learning Services and/or Field Services) or designate, as soon as possible after physical restraint has been used by a school employee and additional district support is required.
  5. Inform parent(s)/guardian(s) as soon as possible after the restraint has occurred.  

Guiding Principles

Staff members are expected to speak and act towards students with respect and dignity.  There is a continuum of progressive interventions in the management of disruptive behaviours, which may include:

  • verbal and non-verbal direction to stop or alter behaviour
  • verbal de-escalation strategies
  • re-stating expectations
  • redirection
  • changing group composition and dynamics
  • providing choices
  • setting limits and providing consequences
  • allowing the individual time to de-escalate (eg. vent verbally, movement break)
  • removing the student to an alternate location
  • utilizing physical escort                  
  • removing others, thereby isolating the individual                      
  • calling for assistance from other employees
  • physically restraining the student until the student is regulated.

Prevention and de-escalation is the first step in developing and implementing proactive strategies to minimize physical aggression or threats of a physical nature. Prevention and de-escalation strategies may not always have the desired effect and in certain situations it may be necessary, in the opinion of staff, to apply reasonable physical restraint.

  • Physical restraint is to be applied in the spirit of in loco parentis; that is in a fair, judicious, and kind manner. Physical restraint may only occur when the behaviour of the student poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others, including school personnel, and where less restrictive interventions have been ineffective in ending imminent danger of serious physical harm.
  • Physical restraint may never be used as a punishment, discipline, or to force compliance in an educational learning setting.
  • All school members involved in implementing physical restraint protocols should be trained in positive behaviour intervention supports, preferably Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Training (CPI), to ensure that positive behaviour interventions, supports, and de-escalation techniques are used.
  • Physical restraint must be discontinued once imminent danger or serious self-harm or harm to others has dissipated and the student is self regulated.
  • Where the use of physical restraint may be a potential part of the educational program of a student with special needs, procedures will be clearly laid out in that student’s IEP and/or Positive Behaviour Support Plan, and all other guidelines stated in this regulation shall be followed.
  • In cases where a student’s behaviour could potentially cause harm to self or others, the student’s educational planning includes development of a formal behaviour support plan, and an employee safety plan detailing physical restraint procedures. This information will be shared with the parent/guardian, any staff working with the student, and student as applicable and appropriate.
  • In cases of repeated use of physical restraint for an individual student a review of prevention/intervention strategies will be conducted. When staff determine that the use of physical restraint is not a safe option, emergency services need to be accessed by contacting 911.

Restraint Process

The restraint process involves four basic steps: physical restraint, notification, debriefing and documentation follow-up.

Step 1:           Physical Restraint

Physical restraint must be conducted in accordance with CPI principles, and:

  • with calm, reassuring verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • with brief neutral and reassuring statements that give reasons for the restraint and describe the necessary behaviour for ending the restraint.
  • with the least amount of physical force to protect the student and the restrainer.
  • with the least amount of physical, emotional or psychological impact on others.
  • in the presence of another adult when practical.

Step 2:           Notification

Notification of the restraint must be made as soon as possible (normally before the end of classes on the school day on which the incident has occurred) to the Principal and the parents/guardian. The Principal will contact applicable district personnel, including the Directors of Instruction, and /or the District Principal of Student Support Services as required.

Step 3:           Debriefing

A debriefing process should occur for the student who was restrained, the staff involved and students who witnessed the restraint incident. The purpose of the debriefing process is to re-establish and maintain a safe learning environment and supportive relationships.

Step 4:           Documentation follow-up

An incident of physical restraint must be documented appropriately and should include some of the following:

  • written statements describing the incident and naming the people involved.
  • a meeting with concerned parties, including parents/guardians of the student, and where possible with the student to discuss the restraint incident and strategies for preventing a reoccurrence, including a review of the student behaviour plan.
  • the completion of current VSB documentation (i.e.Violent Incident Investigation Report form/ Behaviour Log ) if staff were injured or threatened, in accordance with WCB regulations.

The Board does not support the use of seclusion.

Cross References: 
BC Ministry of Education Provincial Guidelines for Physical Restraint and Seclusion in School Settings
Adopted Date: 
Monday April 24, 2017