Safe Schools

Durham Catholic District School Board and St. Mary Catholic Secondary School promote responsibility, respect, civility and academic excellence in a safe learning and teaching environment. A positive school climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, comfortable and accepted.

All students, parents/guardians, teachers, staff, trustees, volunteers, visitors, parish and community members have the right to be safe and to feel safe in their school. With this right comes the responsibility to contribute to a positive school climate.

We are focused on prevention, early intervention and progressive discipline as the keys to maintaining a positive environment where students can learn and educators can teach.

Each school has developed a School Code of Conduct based on the Ministry of Education's Code of Conduct. As per our Board's policy Safe, Caring and Healthy Secondary Schools and the Ontario Safe School Act, a school's Code of Conduct is developed in consultation with parents, educators and the Catholic School Advisory Council. All members of our school community are responsible for adhering to the expectations as outlined in this Code of Conduct


Report It

Report It is a tool for parents and students to advise us of non-emergency incidents of bullying and other school safety issues (for example vandalism). It is not monitored on a 24/7 basis. If this is an emergency, call 911.

If a student needs immediate emotional support, please call the Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or Durham Mobile Crisis: 905-666-0483 or toll-free: 1-800-742-1890.

Our top priority is the safety and well-being of all students. All students deserve to learn in a place where they feel safe. We want to know about incidents of bullying and other safety concerns so that we can take action and prevent further incidents from happening. We take issues of bullying and school safety very seriously.

We encourage parents and students to report incidents of bullying or other school safety concerns as soon as it happens. Speak with a teacher or school administration to provide information about the situation.

Medical Conditions
Ensuring the health and safety of children and students with medical conditions is essential to promoting well-being, and requires a partnership among families, members of the school community and community partners, including health care professionals. Ontario Ministry of Education has provided direction to school boards to have policies and procedures in place to support children and students with certain medical conditions (e.g. anaphylaxis, asthma, diabetes, and/or epilepsy) in schools. Please visit the Ministry of Education: Healthy Schools for more information.
Concussion Protocol (Rowan's Law)
Our Board recognizes concussions as a serious injury. Concussion awareness, prevention, identification and management are a priority for the Board. A concussion is a serious event, but you can recover fully from such an injury if the brain is given enough time to rest and recuperate. Returning to normal activities, including sport participation, is a step-wise process that requires patience, attention, and caution. Please speak to your Vice-Principal if you have a concussion.

 If a child has experienced a previous concussion, then the following form must be completed:

Protection of Anaphylactic Students (Sabrina's Law)
The Board, principals, teachers and parents play an important role in providing a safe environment for anaphylactic students. It is essential that all schools are aware of the issues facing students with anaphylaxis, have developed strategies to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction, and are equipped to respond appropriately in the event of an emergency.

Anaphylaxis emergency plans can help to create safer environments for allergic individuals. School anaphylaxis plans help to reduce the risk of exposure to allergens and prepare school communities for an emergency situation. 

Parents/Guardians shall:

  • inform school officials forthwith of any life-threatening allergic condition and ensure that the information in the student's file, including but not limited to the medication that the student is taking is up-to-date and includes signed consent to disclose;
  • pre-authorize the administration of medication in response to an anaphylactic reaction provided that the school has up-to-date treatment medication and any applicable consent from the parent or guardian.

If applicable, Parents/Guardians should complete and submit Individual Education Plan: Protection of Anaphylactic Students to the Main Office.

Ensuring Asthma Friendly Schools (Ryan's Law)

Ryan's Law, 2015, was recently passed by the Ontario Legislature. This piece of legislation is an important step to support the well-being of students with asthma in Ontario schools. Over the course of the next school year, the Durham Catholic District School Board will be working to implement the requirements of this legislation and developing a more formal process to identify students with asthma and their asthma medication.

If your child has asthma, as a best practice and to support your child, we ask that you immediately contact the main office at your school to provide information about your child's asthma medication. With your permission, your child will be allowed to carry their asthma medication.

Safe and Caring Schools

Emergency Response Procedures

Staff, students and visitors in our schools have the right to learn, work, and be present in a safe and secure environment. To enhance safety and security, it is important that we have plans for responding to threats of violence, whether they occur outside of the school, inside of the school or as a threat, for example a bomb threat. The Ministry of Education, school boards and police services from across the province work in partnership to ensure that we are provided with the most current and relevant information required to create effective Emergency Response Plans, for example the mandatory Lockdown and Hold and Secure plans. 

Schools in the Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) strive to create positive school climates where all members of the school community feel safe and accepted. Each year, DCDSB celebrates Safe and Accepting Schools Week to further promote responsibility, respect, civility, and academic excellence in a safe learning and teaching environment.

In September we began practicing our emergency response drills so we are well prepared should an emergency situation ever occur. For many years, schools have practiced six fire drills annually. As part of the Police/School Board Protocol (2016), schools must now also practice Lockdown, Hold and Secure, and Bomb Threat Response drills.

As parents and guardians, you have an important role to play in supporting our Emergency Response planning efforts. We ask that you reinforce with your child(ren) the importance of listening closely to all directions from staff members and following them exactly. It is important that students take the practice of these drills seriously so that should an emergency occur, everyone knows exactly what to do. Over the course of the next few months, we will share more information with you about our Emergency response plans so that you can reinforce them with your child(ren).

Fire Drills
Students practice the appropriate way to exit the building when they hear a fire alarm. All students, staff and visitors are asked to stay clear of parking lots and driveways on school the school premises for emergency service vehicle access. Practices are held when students are in class, and where an exit might be blocked.

Lockdown - is the term used for the resulting school safety response when a major incident or threat of school violence within the school, or in relation to the school or surrounding community has occurred. Interior doors are locked. Exterior doors are locked if it is safe to do so (for example there is no presence of a threat or violence to the staff member responsible for locking the doors).

Students practice the appropriate way to respond to a threat of danger inside the school using the R-SAFE acronym. Students are taught to get to the nearest and safest location as quickly as possible, what to do when they get there and the importance of remaining quiet.

R - Remain Calm  In any emergency, remaining calm is always the first and most important step.
S - Secure Location  Students are to get to or remain in a secure location and follow the direction of the teacher.  If for some reason, a student was in the hallway or the washroom, then the student knows to get to the nearest room that can be secured or locked.
A - All Quiet  In a Lockdown, the goal is to make any room where there are people look as deserted as possible as quick as possible.  Being quiet and remaining quiet is key to making a room appear deserted.
F- Find the Safest Spot Once students are secured in a classroom or lockable area, students learn to find the safest spot in that room, for example as far away from the doors, windows or any other sightline.  Teachers will help students recognize where this spot is in their own classroom and in common areas like the library.
E - Electronics Off    Staff and students are required to turn off all electronics, like cell phones.  Students must be quiet and still and talking or texting on a cell phone puts themselves and others in danger.  During an emergency that requires a Lockdown, the police will take complete charge of the situation and that includes what information gets shared and when.  The last thing anyone would want is to negatively impact the situation by sharing information that might compromise the safety of others.
Hold and Secure

Students practice how to respond to a threat of danger outside the school. In the case of a Hold and Secure, students and staff who are located outdoors on school grounds are requested to enter the building and to go to the nearest securable classroom/space. All exterior doors remain locked and students remain inside, away from exterior doors and windows until the Hold and Secure has been lifted. In most cases, the need for a Hold and Secure is at the request of the police, based on a situation in the neighbourhood. In these cases, the school must wait for the police to lift the request for a Hold and Secure.

Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place - is the term used for the resulting school safety response when there is an environmental or weather-related situation where it is necessary to keep all the occupants within the school to protect them from external harm. Exterior and interior doors remain locked in accordance with normal practice. Students practice how to respond to an environmental danger, like a hurricane. In most cases, the response will be a Hold and Secure with specific directions based on the environmental concern.

Bomb Threat

Students are taught the appropriate response to a bomb threat which includes never touching a suspicious package, and listening carefully to the directions of the teacher or the administration if an evacuation is warranted by the police.

Emergency Response Procedures - How can parents help?

Each September, as part of our Police/Board protocol we practice our emergency response procedures so all staff and students are well prepared in the event of a real emergency. Using letters via EDSBY and the school website, we will provide all families with details of our practices and the role that parents play in supporting a school’s emergency response.

  • Parents can help by following the procedures associated with each of plans should they be present during a drill or should a real situation occur. 
  • School administration must follow the direction of the police as soon as they become involved in an emergency response. As such, parents must understand that schools are unable to release students during an emergency response without the expressed permission of the police.
  • Parents can also assist the school by emphasizing with their children the importance of closely following the direction of the staff during a drill or a real emergency. 
  • Parents should encourage their children to share any information they may have about a threat of violence toward a school or information they may have after a violent incident. It is everyone’s responsibility to help keep our school safe.
  • In the event of a lockdown, hold and secure or bomb threat parents are asked to refrain from calling the school or their child to keep the phone lines open. Ongoing communication with parents and updates will occur electronically via the Durham Catholic District School Board and/or St. Mary CSS school twitter account
  • In the event of a lockdown, hold and secure or bomb threat, we ask that parents refrain from accessing any part of the school grounds, including the parking lot and the fields surrounding the school as these grounds may be used for evacuation purposes and/or professional emergency services. The designated “Parent Safe Zone Waiting Area” is the Amberlea Shopping Centre located at 1822 Whites Rd N, Pickering, ON L1V 4M1.
Community Threat Assessment and Intervention Protocol – Fair Notice
The Durham Catholic District School Board is committed to providing safe learning environments for all students, staff, school visitors and community members. When student behaviours pose a potential threat to safety or serious harm to self or others, all schools in the Durham Catholic District School Board follow the Community Threat Assessment and Intervention Protocol (C-TAIP), which outlines how a school responds immediately to threatening behaviour. This protocol involves supports from various partners, including community agencies, hospitals and police services. Personal information shared throughout this process will always respect and balance each individual’s right to privacy while ensuring the safety of all. For more information, please refer to the school website or ask the principal for more information.
Search and Seizure
According to the Police/School Board Protocol for Durham Catholic District School Board, it is the right and authority of the Principal or designate to search school and personal property, such as lockers, desks, backpacks, purses, etc., without notice or permission of any person as long as the Principal or designate has reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a breach of school regulations and that the search would reveal evidence of that breach.  Police may from time to time be invited onto school premises to conduct their own searches, also without prior notice to or permission of any member of the school community. 
Community Partners
Through outreach, school and community partnerships already in place may be enhanced and new partnerships developed with community agencies and other groups within the community (e.g., Kinark Family and Child Services, Aboriginal Elders). Community agencies are important resources that schools can use to deliver prevention or intervention programs. Protocols are effective ways of establishing connections between boards and community agencies and formalizing the partnership. These partnership agreements must respect all applicable collective agreements and Board policies. 
Durham Regional Police Service Partnerships
The Durham Regional Police Service plays an essential role in making our schools and communities safer. The police investigate incidents in accordance with our Police/School Board protocol. This protocol is based on the provincial model developed by the Ministry of Education. The Durham Regional Police Service are instrumental in supporting our schools with all emergency preparedness procedures and Safe Schools initiatives. Each of our schools has regular access to a School Liaison Officer. 
Restorative Schools

We believe that safety begins with positive connections between the students, staff and parents.  To foster these relationships, staff in the Durham Catholic District School Board use restorative practices, including classroom circles and small group conferences to build community within the classroom and the school.  Restorative Practice is rooted in the same philosophical approach as Canada’s Native Aboriginal communities.  It rests on the belief that it is best to do things with people, rather than to them.  When conflict arises, using restorative practice engages students in a fair process that responds to behavior in ways that strengthen and repair the relationship.  It is collaborative rather than adversarial in nature.  The aim of restorative practice is to hold individuals accountable for their actions while restoring and repairing any relationships amongst each other and within the community that may have been harmed.

Catholic Restorative Schools will:

  • Provide opportunities for someone who has done harm to determine the effect of his/her actions and make reparations
  • Provide a voice for the victim
  • Use a common set of restorative questions both in and out of our classrooms to give the victim a voice and enable the perpetrator to determine the effect of his/her actions. “How do you think your actions had an impact on others?”  “What do you think you need to do to make things right?”
  • Use circles, or small group conferences to build community, develop empathy and understanding, and when needed,  to repair relationships
  • Celebrate our Catholic community through the Catholic virtues and Catholic Graduate Expectations
  • Use think papers and reflective discussion papers aligned with the restorative questions