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Administrative Procedure 354: PHYSICAL RESTRAINT, SECLUSION & TIME OUT


The Division recognizes that it has a responsibility to maintain safe, orderly and caring school environments for all of its students and employees. Behaviour is a form of communication and interventions for all students are to emphasize prevention and promotion of positive behaviour to protect the individual’s and other’s safety. 

The Division believes that each child/student is unique and requires an individualized approach to managing challenging behaviour.  The division also believes that respect for student rights, maintaining student dignity and the safety of all involved is paramount. 

There are at least three core partners on any child’s/student’s learning support team: the child/student, the parent/guardian, and the teacher. Partners may also include other school authority staff who understand the child’s/student’s strengths and needs. When required, the learning support team may also include specialized professionals, including but not limited to mental health and social service professionals, community agencies and service providers, cultural resource people, liaison workers and elders that work collaboratively to meet the child's/student's learning needs.

The Division recognizes that the use of emergency physical restraint or seclusion procedures may be necessary when a student presents an imminent danger to themselves or others. Every effort will be made to employ preventative actions that preclude the need for the use of physical restraint or seclusion. 


Physical restraint is defined as any method of using physical contact for restricting or immobilizing another person's freedom of movement, physical activity, or normal access to their body. It is a personal restriction that serves as a means of controlling an individual's movement, reconstituting behavioural control, and establishing and maintaining safety for the individual and other individuals.

  • Physical restraint does not include physical escort, which may involve temporarily touching or holding of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder or back for the purpose of accompanying and inducing a child/student who is beginning to act out or is slightly agitated to walk to a safe location. Such contact is often brief and directional and does not serve as immobilization or a means for reconstituting behavioural control.
  • Temporary physical contact for purposes such as moving a child/student away from danger or breaking up a fight is not considered physical restraint. Physical restraint also does not include providing physical guidance or the prompting of a child/student when teaching a skill.

Seclusion is the involuntary confinement or isolation of a person, alone in a room or area from which the person cannot freely exit or is physically prevented from leaving. This generally occurs in a room with a door that has a lock. The lock may be engaged, or if not engaged, the door is otherwise blocked or held shut.

  • The term seclusion does not apply where a student has personally requested to be in a different/secluded location/space.

A seclusion room is defined as a room, structure or enclosure in a school operated by a school authority, the primary purpose or use of which involves the involuntary confinement or isolation of a student where the student is prevented or incapable of evacuating from the room, structure or enclosure without the assistance of another person because security measures are not under the student's control. 

The term time-out is a shortened form of a behavioural management strategy known as time-out from positive reinforcement. It is a behavioural intervention that involves reducing or limiting the amount of reinforcement that is available to an individual for a brief period of time in order to decrease or stop a predefined challenging behaviour.

  • Time out is only one option along a continuum of behaviour interventions supporting behaviour change. Time-out can be implemented on several different levels, ranging from quiet time in the regular classroom to a time-out room in a location outside of the classroom. 
  • Typically time-out is used in tandem with positive interventions that can maximize student learning and assist in the acquisition of replacement behaviours. 
  • Time-out is not the same as seclusion or physical restraint. Whereas time-out is considered a behaviour reduction strategy for the purposes of reducing or stopping future instances of problem behaviour, seclusion and physical restraint are considered to be emergency or safety procedures aimed at stopping behaviour that may result in immediate harm to an individual or others. 


  1. Physical restraint and seclusion procedures are emergency, not behaviour management, procedures and are used only in exceptional circumstances where a student is in imminent danger of causing harm to self or others. 
    1. Seclusion or physical restraint are not substitutes for comprehensive, proactive and positive behaviour supports. They are measures of last resort in crisis situations. Appropriate educational supports and behavioural interventions are to be provided to children/students who need them in a safe and least restrictive environment.

  2. If seclusion and/or physical restraint are used, it is required that:
    1. all seclusion environments are safe, humane and abide by all building, safety and fire codes; free of items that may be harmful to students, and adequately lit, well-ventilated, and at a suitable temperature;
    2. seclusion and/or physical restraint procedures are conducted in a manner that reduces harm to a child/student and others;
    3. there is continual visual and aural monitoring of any child/student throughout the period of seclusion or physical restraint;
    4. seclusion is not used when a child/student is engaging in severe self-injurious behaviours; and 
    5. for a child/student who is unable to adequately express themselves through speech alone, school staff who are able to communicate with the child/student are present at all times if seclusion is used with such a child/student

  3. Seclusion and/or physical restraint are not used:
    1. as punishment, discipline or to force compliance;
    2. to stop a child/student who is engaged in destructive behaviour such as damaging property, unless there is a risk to the safety of the child/student or others;
    3. as substitutes for appropriate educational support; and
    4. when a known medical, physical, psychological or other condition would make the use of seclusion or physical restraint dangerous for a child/student.

  4. School principals are required to include among their staff, individuals with training in conflict de-escalation, crisis de-escalation, non-violent crisis intervention and implementing positive behaviour interventions to facilitate defusing conflict and crisis situations.
    1. School principals will designate at least two school staff that are required to complete training and act as a school-wide resource on the use of seclusion and/or physical restraint in the school.
    2. Principals will ensure that school staff who work with a child/student in situations where there is a potential for imminent danger of serious harm to the child/student or others are required to have practical training in prevention and de-escalation strategies, recognizing situations where imminent harm is likely to occur and safely implementing crisis responses when warranted.

  5. When the use of seclusion and/or physical restraint is being considered for a child/student as a pre-planned safety, emergency or crisis measure, it is required that parents/guardians are involved in the development of these plans and provide their informed consent. Where appropriate, children/students should also be involved.
    1. Parents/guardians are to be informed as soon as possible after each incident involving the use of physical restraint or seclusion with their child. Reasonable efforts to reach the parent/guardian are required to be made and documented before the end of the school day.

  6. Prevention/intervention strategies are reviewed and revised in situations where: 
    1. Repeated use of physical restraint and seclusion for an individual student occurs;
    2. Multiple uses of physical restraint and seclusion occur within the same classroom; or
    3. Physical restraint and seclusion is repeatedly used by an individual.

  7. As soon as possible after each instance where seclusion and/or physical restraint is used, detailed information regarding the use is to be documented and regularly reviewed for the frequency of use and appropriate educational planning for the child/student.
    1. Incidents of physical restraint and seclusion will be reported to the Principal and forwarded to the Assistant Superintendent of Inclusive Education & Student Services.

  8. The Assistant Superintendent of Inclusive Education and Student Services will review this Administrative Procedure on a regular basis to ensure alignment with current research/practice and to ensure alignment with guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education. 


Use of Physical Restraint or Seclusion Reporting Form


Sections 32, 33 Education Act 

Ministerial Order 042/2019 Standards for Seclusion and Physical Restraint

Guidelines for Time Out in Alberta Schools November 2019


Revised: May 6, 2019