Ontario teachers need a set of classroom keys to keep kids safe in the event of a lockdown, say new recommendations from a task force representing both elementary teachers and school administrators.
Supply teachers in particular are placed in classrooms but not given keys, and even some full-time teachers may not have them, said Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
“What needs to happen is that all staff be provided with the means to lock and unlock independently,” he said. “There are members who don’t have keys to their own classrooms and this is something we’ve been pushing for so we are happy it has come forward in these recommendations.”
The task force has also asked that principals and staff be trained what to do in case of a lockdown, which now “varies form board to board.
“Everyone needs to be working off the same page,” Hammond added. “We need to have consistency across the boards.”
The task force, he noted, is unprecedented in that it was one of the “positive things” that came out of the labour turmoil between the Liberal government and teacher unions in 2013.
“This is the first time we’ve taken a truly co-operative approach — the labour unions, school boards and government have come together and identified how to create safer schools,” he said.
Groups involved include the elementary teachers’ union, the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association as well as representatives from the provincial ministries of labour and education.
Issues covered include everything from air quality to health and safety training to workplace violence.
The 22 recommendations will next go before the government or school boards for approval.