5.A.160 Proactive Supports to Minimize the Use of Seclusion Rooms

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Safe Schools

Administrative Procedure: Proactive Supports to Minimize the Use of Seclusion Rooms




January 2022
















Policy Reference



Legal Reference


Public Schools Act (Manitoba) 41(1)

Workplace Safety and Health Act (Manitoba) 4(1) & 4(2

Personal Health Information Act,





Policy Reference:

Safe & Caring Schools: A Policy Directive Enhancing Proactive Supports to Minimize the Use of Seclusion


Legal References:

Public Schools Act

Education Administration Act

Human Rights Code

Criminal Code

Workplace Safety and Health Act

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act

The Safe Schools Charter


All students in Manitoba have a right to appropriate educational programming (Manitoba, AEP Regulation) in a safe, caring, and inclusive learning environment (Manitoba, Public Schools Act and Safe Schools Charter).


In Manitoba, a positive whole-school approach to planning for safety and belonging (Manitoba Education, Whole-School Approach; Manitoba Education, Supporting Positive Behaviour; Manitoba Education, From Challenges to Possibilities) is combined with a supportive response to meeting the safety needs of all persons in the school environment (Manitoba, Education Administration Act). In Manitoba, all schools are expected to engage in preventative practices as opposed to those that are punitive and reactive (Manitoba Education, Code of Conduct).


Border Land School Division supports and recognizes that appropriate educational programming includes a positive, whole-school approach to planning for safety and belonging in combination with a supportive response to meeting safety needs of all persons in the school environment. This procedure is intended to assist schools in creating and maintaining learning environments that are safe and welcoming.


Seclusion may only be used as a safety response when a student poses an immediate risk of serious physical harm to self or others. Seclusion is used as a last resort after prevention strategies, de-escalation interventions, and less restrictive measures have been exhausted. 



Schools will identify and implement preventative practices that promote positive student behaviour, and strategies that will reduce, and eventually eliminate, the use of seclusion.

All behaviour is a form of communication. When a student is unable to communicate their needs verbally, they may use their behaviour to tell us they are stressed/distressed or that there is a problem that needs to be resolved.  To promote a safe, caring, and inclusive learning environment, schools must provide opportunities for students and staff to increase their understanding of behaviour and to learn to manage/respond to behaviour in ways that support a safe, caring, and inclusive school community. A whole-school positive behaviour approach is the foundation for teaching students the skills they need to engage in positive behaviour. This will meet the needs of most students. 


If a student requires more specific skill and strategy instruction to meet their needs, the student support team will work with the student and their parents/guardians to develop a student-specific plan. The student support team works together to identify the student’s needs by trying to understand what the student is communicating through their behaviour. The team’s understanding of the function of the student’s behaviour is used to develop and implement a student specific plan, including:

  • selecting effective teaching strategies, 
  • identifying environmental adjustments to set the student up for success, 
  • identifying ways to help students manage their own behaviour,
  • teaching pro-social skills, 
  • developing positive replacement behaviours, and 
  • identifying appropriate response strategies that will be used in the student-specific plan. 

Seclusion is a safety procedure, not a teaching strategy. It is not used as an intervention strategy for anticipated behaviour and is never used as part of a student-specific plan to manage/change student behaviour. Proactive behavioural support plans largely negate the need for restrictive measures. 


A preventative approach requires a focus on developing a proactive skill set by the school team. This includes a whole school approach to positive behaviour, the use of positive behaviour interventions, conflict de-escalation techniques, and support for all school personnel to implement positive behaviour supports. In Border Land School Division, this includes:

  • WEVAS: all teachers and educational assistants are expected to participate in WEVAS training to develop a foundational understanding of emotional states, and the communication skills necessary to support a safe learning environment for all students.
  • Developmental, Individual differences, and Relationship-based model (DIR): all support staff who support students with self-regulation programming directed by Occupational Therapists (OT) in BLSD are expected to complete annual training with the OTs; case managers for students referred to this intervention are expected to participate in DIR training.
  • Behaviour Support: Resource Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, and School Administrators are expected to collaborate and consult with Behaviour Support clinicians to identify support and professional development needs of staff for their whole school approach to positive behaviour. This could include Zones of Regulation, Shanker Self Reg, Real Restitution, Sources of Strength, Positive Behavioural Intervention and Supports (PBIS), Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS), etc.
  • Violence Threat Risk Assessment and intervention (VTRA): BLSD provides cyclical in-school and divisional PD to support early intervention and prevention for crises, trauma, violence and conflict.
  • Suicide Prevention & Intervention: at a minimum, BLSD Clinicians, Administrators, and Guidance Counsellors are expected to maintain current ASIST training. Guidance Counsellors and Administrators in early and middle years schools are expected to participate in ASK training.
  • Critical Incident Group Debriefing: Principals, Resource Teachers and Guidance Counsellors are encouraged to have training in critical incident group debriefing, and to consult with Student Services and the Clinical Services Team regarding debriefing.

Definitions and terminology


Seclusion is the involuntary confinement of a student in a room or area where the student cannot freely exit or is physically prevented from leaving (BC Ministry of Education; CCBD; CEC). This generally occurs in a room with a door that has a lock that is engaged, or if not engaged, the door is otherwise blocked or held shut (Alberta Education). Seclusion is often used in association with physical restraint.


Seclusion is a safety response that is used only in situations when a student is in extreme distress and their behaviour has escalated to the point where it poses an immediate risk of serious physical harm to self or others (CCBD), and only after proactive strategies, de-escalation interventions, and less restrictive measures have been exhausted.


Seclusion is one of the most intrusive interventions used in response to behaviour. It has been shown to have a harmful impact on students, including physical injury (in some cases, death), psychological trauma, damaged relationships, and increased challenging behaviour. It also has a negative impact on school staff, students, parents/guardians, and the school climate.


Seclusion is never used when there is no immediate risk of serious physical harm to self or others and is never used:

  • as part of a student-specific plan (e.g. Behaviour Intervention Plan) to manage student behaviour;
  • as a substitute for appropriate educational programming or effective behaviour planning;
  • as a punishment, consequence, disciplinary action, or way to force compliance;
  • to protect property at risk of damage; or
  • when a student is non-compliant, confrontational, or verbally aggressive.


The use of seclusion as a safety response differs from a variety of associated practices such as sensory or regulation interventions or time out. While these practices may share some properties of seclusion, they do not constitute seclusion as understood within these guidelines.


Sensory/Regulation Space is an umbrella term that encompasses a broad variety of therapeutic spaces (e.g., calming space, sensory integration room, regulation room, workout room, multi-sensory room) that is used proactively to meet a student’s sensory needs and promote self-regulation. It is a therapeutic intervention that is part of the student-specific plan based on the recommendations of a clinician who monitors its use. It should not be confused with the use of seclusion, as seclusion is not a therapeutic intervention.


Time Out occurs when access to reinforcement (anything that increases the behaviour) is removed for a period of time following the occurrence of an identified problem behaviour in order to reduce or stop that behaviour. Time out may involve removing a student from sources of positive reinforcement as a consequence of specific undesired behaviour. It is one option along a continuum of behaviour interventions supporting behaviour change, and it is commonly used in two ways: non-exclusion and exclusion.


Non-exclusion time out does not involve the removal of the student from the learning environment. It occurs within the classroom where the student is able to observe and hear what is going on during the time out period.


Exclusion time out occurs when the student is removed from the classroom for the time out period, and no longer has access to the classroom but has access to other students or staff.


Time out and seclusion are not the same. Time out is used as a consequence with the intent of supporting behaviour change. It is never used when the safety of a student is the concern.


If a student chooses to be alone in a room or area, and is free to leave at any point (e.g. independent work in a quiet space, student-initiated short break), this is not considered to be time out or seclusion.


Physical Restraint refers to a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move their torso, arms, legs, or head freely to secure and maintain the safety of the person or the safety of others (BC Ministry of Education). Physical restraint is a safety response used only in situations when a student poses an immediate risk of serious physical harm to self or others.


Physical restraint is often associated with seclusion because it is often used to transport a student to the environment in which they are secluded. They are, however, separate procedures that could occur without the other. Both the use of seclusion and physical restraint pose risks to student and staff.


Physical restraint differs from other physical interventions, such as physical guidance and physical escort. Physical guidance is the prompting of a student when teaching a skill, redirecting attention, or providing comfort. Physical escort is the temporary touching or holding of a student’s hand, wrist, arm, should or back for the purpose of accompanying and inducing a student who is acting out to walk to a safe location.


Physical interventions should not exceed what are reasonable or proportionate under the circumstances (Canada, Dept. of Justice) and should be discontinued as soon as the immediate risk of serious physical harm to the student or others has dissipated.


Border Land School Division staff are expected to use the least restrictive approach to supporting students to support inclusion, maintain safety, and demonstrate respect for their autonomy, agency, rights, individual worth and dignity.




Working as a team, staff should focus on protecting the safety of all students including the student at risk of causing immediate serious physical harm to self or others.


Principals have the responsibility and authority over the conduct of a student.  They must ensure that the interventions and responses used or implemented in carrying out duties to maintain order and safety in school are appropriate, given the frequency and severity of the event, and take into account the student’s stage of development.  The principal must ensure that all staff be made aware of the school’s safety response procedures (Manitoba Education & Training, Code of Conduct). The goal of all response procedures is to secure and stabilize the situation in a calm, coordinated manner.


If a student’s behaviour has escalated to the point where it poses an immediate risk of serious physical harm to self or others, staff and people who have care and charge of the student should immediately call for assistance from the principal (Manitoba, Public Schools Act) and those staff members who have adequate knowledge and training to de-escalate and manage the event. Stressors should be removed from the environment when possible. 


If necessary, other students in the vicinity should be moved in a calm, orderly manner to a safe distance. The student in crisis should not be left alone. The environment should be scanned for potential dangers. Objects that could cause immediate serious physical harm should be removed if it is safe to do so. Attention should be given to procedures for a safe “room clear.”

Seclusion may need to be employed as a safety response as a last resort and only after proactive strategies, de-escalation interventions, and less restrictive measures have been exhausted.  If it is used, it must be discontinued as soon as the immediate risk of serious physical harm to the student or others has dissipated. Staff must be clear about the criteria for ending seclusion. Staff must communicate the criteria to the student.

If seclusion is used, it is the responsibility of the principal (or designate) to ensure that:

  • the student is safe;
  • the student’s freedom of movement is not restricted in a way that restricts the student’s breathing or physically harms the student;
  • regard and respect for the student’s dignity is maintained;
  • the student can communicate their basic needs and have those needs met;
  • the staff observing the student are able to communicate effectively with the student at all times;
  • staff are clear about criteria for ending seclusion or restraint;
  • staff clearly communicate criteria for ending seclusion or restraint to the student;
  • a staff member is assigned the role of observer and notetaker, to record a factual and objective account of the event (video and photos are not permitted);
  • continuous monitoring (seeing and hearing) are maintained for the entire period of seclusion;
  • Workplace Health and Safety procedures (1.A.260 Violence in the Workplace) are followed with an incident report being filed as necessary;
  • seclusion is discontinued as soon as the immediate risk of serious physical harm to self or others has dissipated;
  • timely communication occurs with parents or caregivers;
  • school and divisional emergency response procedures (5.A.40 Critical and Emergency Situations) are followed in the event that further safety measures are necessary; and
  • appropriate reporting and documentation are completed within the expected timeframes.


Reporting and documentation


Any incident that involves the use of seclusion must be reported on the day of the event to the  

  • principal (or designate),  
  • parent(s)/legal guardian(s),  
  • student services manager, and  
  • superintendent (or designate). 


    A copy of the documentation be must be placed in the pupil file (green) and entered into PowerSchool within 48 hours (log entry & attachments of Appendix A & C as PDFs).

    Each event of the use of seclusion or restraint must be documented to include, at a minimum, the following (Appendix A: Seclusion/Restraint Incident Report):  

- student name  

  • where and when the event of seclusion or restraint occurred 
  • antecedents leading up to the seclusion or restraint  

- witnesses  

- a clear, factual & objective description of the student’s behaviour  

- a description of interventions used prior to the implementation of seclusion  

- who was at risk of immediate serious physical harm that resulted in the use of seclusion  

- name of staff member making the decision to use seclusion  

- names of other staff members involved and their role in the seclusion event  

- a chronology noting observations of the student’s behaviour during seclusion  

- a log that reports how the student was monitored during seclusion and by whom 

- the duration of the seclusion any use of other restrictive measures (e.g., restraint)  

- a description of any harm to students, staff, or others 

- criteria for ending seclusion and how this was communicated to the student  

immediate post-seclusion actions  

- details of contact with parent(s)/legal guardian(s), principal, student services manager, and superintendent  

- date of planned debriefing(s)

- summary of the debriefing(s) and outcomes decided upon (Appendix C: Group Debriefing Summary)

- date of planned student support team meeting(s) 



Schools are expected to use post-seclusion debriefing process to support the reintegration of students into the school community and to restore a sense of safety and belonging.


The event must be debriefed in order to review and reflect upon the circumstances and its impact. Understanding the reason seclusion took place and having the opportunity to talk about the intervention with others has been found to help individuals come to terms with the experience of seclusion.


It is expected that debriefing meetings will occur with parent(s)/legal guardian(s), the student, and school staff involved in the seclusion event. The student’s parent(s)/ legal guardian(s) and the student may have the opportunity to be accompanied and assisted by a person of their choosing during the debriefing. Debriefings should be in-person and take place as soon as possible after the event.


Additional, separate, debriefings should be made available to others in the school who were impacted physically and/or emotionally by the event. 


Debriefings are led by the principal (or designate) who has training/experience in leading a debriefing process (Appendix B: Group Debriefing Guidelines). The debriefing should focus on how the use of seclusion could have been prevented and should identify what can be done to avoid seclusion if a similar event occurs in the future.


A Summary of the Debriefing(s) and any outcomes decided upon (Appendix C: Group Debriefing Summary) is placed in the pupil support file (green file) and PowerSchool. 


The student support team must meet (or be formed) as soon as reasonably possible after the seclusion event to:  

  • examine what happened,  
  • conduct a function-based assessment to learn more about the purpose of the behaviour and precipitating factors,  
  • engage in the student-specific planning process, 
  • to write or revise the student-specific plan identifying what needs to be changed to decrease the chance of the behaviour recurring (e.g., changes to environment, changes to positive behaviour strategies, alternative responses to the student’s behaviour), 
  • identify staff development or training needs, and 
  • initiate a plan for addressing these needs. 

Monitoring and Review


Border Land School Division annually monitors, evaluates, and reviews data (report to be pulled from PowerSchool) related to the use of seclusion to inform school division procedures.


The data collected will enable Border Land school division to understand the circumstances around the use of seclusion and to support facilitating the implementation of more effective strategies to support educational and behavioural programming. The use of seclusion as a safety response is an indication that further work needs to be done to ensure a safe, caring, and inclusive learning environment (CCBD).


At a minimum, Border Land School Division will review the following:  

  • Seclusion/Restraint Incident reports to identify any patterns or trends to inform decision making,  
  • harm incurred by students and staff (Workplace Safety and Health, Incident Reports),  
  • repeated use of seclusion for an individual student, multiple uses within the same classroom, or multiple uses by the same individual that would trigger a review by the school and the school division and may indicate a need for additional training and/or support,  
  • adherence to seclusion policies and procedures,  
  • staff professional support and training needs,  
  • environmental considerations,  
  • the effectiveness of policies and procedures in decreasing seclusion using indicators established in consultation with the safety and health committee, parents/legal guardians, students, and community-based service providers, and  
  • the need to update the content of seclusion policies and/or procedures to ensure consistency with any new developments/or new practices (Manitoba, Education Administration Act and Safe Schools Charter). 


Appendix A: Seclusion/Restraint Incident Report

*The principal is responsible to ensure completion and reporting to Border Land School Division.

Name of Student:



Date of incident:

Specific location of seclusion/restraint:






Name of staff member making the decision to use seclusion/restraint:



Antecedent/Precipitating Incident/Events:






Description of interventions used prior to the implementation of seclusion/restraint:







Clear (factual, objective) description of the student’s behavior:






Who was at risk of immediate serious physical harm that resulted in the use of seclusion/restraint:






Names of other staff members involved and their role in the seclusion/restraint event:





Observations of student’s behaviors, in order of occurrence, during seclusion/restraint:






What was the length of time of the seclusion/restraint:




Any other uses of other restrictive measures;




Description of any harm to students, staff or others:




Criteria for ending seclusion and how this was communicated to the student:





Immediate post-seclusion/restraint actions:




Date and method of communication with:

parent(s)/legal guardian(s):


student services manager:



Date of planned debriefing(s):


Date of planned student support team meeting (SSP review/update):



Date that Student Specific Plan(s) is in place:



  • ðLog entry completed in PowerSchool (Seclusion or Restraint log type)
  • ðAttach observation log that reports how the student was monitored during seclusion/restraint and by whom.
  • ðUpload completed Seclusion/Restraint Incident Report to Attachments in PowerSchool (Seclusion or Restraint Category)


Appendix B: Group Debriefing Guidelines

The event must be debriefed to review and reflect upon the circumstances and its impact.


The following guidelines are based on Critical Incident Group Debriefing training (CTRI, 2016).

Guidelines for Group Debriefing

  • debriefings should be in person, and occur as soon as possible
  • debriefing meetings will occur with the parent(s)/legal guardian(s), the student and school staff directly involved in the event
  • supporting feelings of safety and rebuilding trust are the priority: encourage people to speak from their experience, be comfortable with silence, validate and thank each person who speaks; be perceptive of group dynamics (e.g. power issues)
  • highlight similarities between responses
  • don’t push people to share or put people on the spot


Preparing for the Group Debriefing

Consider the following factors to prepare for the Group Debriefing of the seclusion event:

  • Who was involved (direct, witnessed, indirect)? What are the connections of those involved?
  • Are there any pre-existing issues at play?
    • Group functioning (issues of conflict, stresses, prior concerns, etc.)
    • Individual functioning of those involved in the incident
  • Who is best suited to lead this debriefing? Who has enough distance from the event?
  • What groupings will provide the greatest safety?
  • Where will the debriefing happen?
  • How will you manage intense emotions (e.g. anger, guilt)?
  • Who will you meet with after the debriefing to discuss and evaluate the group debriefing process?
  • What will be the agenda, based on the Group Debriefing summary (Appendix C)?




Appendix C: Group Debriefing Summary

Date of Debriefing:

Facilitated by:



  1. Provide a brief summary of what happened  


  2. What was determined as the precipitating factors that lead to the event?


  3. What was determined as the purpose for the exhibited behaviour?


  4. Was there an existing student-specific plan?


  5. If yes, what amendments will be made to



  6. What staff development or training needs emerged as a result of debriefing the incident?


  7. What is the plan for addressing the training needs?


  8. What support is needed to address the training needs?


  9. What steps are we taking to reintegrate the student into the school community to restorea sense of safety and belonging?
  • decrease the chances of the behaviour reoccurring?
  • Increase the proactive, positive behaviour strategies?
  • Indicate alternative responses to the student’s behaviour?


  1. If no, what strategies will be brought to the team’s student specific planning to:
  • decrease the chances of the behaviour reoccurring?
  • Increase the proactive, positive behaviour strategies?
  • Indicate alternative responses to the student’s behaviour?

Border Land School Division

Border Land School Division acknowledges that the communities and schools located within Border Land School Division sit on Treaty 1 and Treaty 3 land, the original lands of the Anishinaabe peoples and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Border Land School Division respects the treaties that were made on these treaty areas and we dedicate ourselves to moving forward in partnership with our Indigenous communities in a spirit of truth, reconciliation and collaboration.