If your child requires a service animal, you should note that policies governing how schools accommodate such companions could become more streamlined.
On Monday (Sept. 9), Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced a new policy directive in support of Ontario students with special needs to improve their access to service animals in schools.
The province says that, as of now, just over half of Ontario school boards have service animal policies. The government says Monday’s announcement has effectively set a uniform standard of student access to service animals across the province.
The province says that school boards are responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures for service animals in schools.
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“I want to ensure that every child, irrespective of their needs, has the opportunity to achieve their highest potential,” said Lecce in a statement. “Every child has inherent human dignity – particularly those with special needs – and that is why this positive step forward, led by Sam Oosterhoff and Amy Fee, will help support the success of all kids in the classroom.”
Bill 48, the Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act, amended the Education Act to give the Minister of Education authority to establish policies and guidelines respecting service animals in schools.
The Act also requires school boards to comply with these policies and guidelines, as well as develop their own board policies in accordance with those set by the Minister of Education.
School boards are required to implement their service animal policies by January 1, 2020.