Outdoor education policy review after student death

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Education Minister Mitzi Hunter was in Sault Ste. Marie in January 2017

TORONTO – Ontario is launching a review of outdoor education policies for every school board in the province after the death of a Toronto teen on a school-run canoe trip this summer.

Education Minister Mitzie Hunter also says the province will immediately increase funding to life-saving swimming programs and increase awareness about the programs for incoming Canadian residents.

The Toronto District School Board said Wednesday that 15 students on a canoe trip in Algonquin Park did not pass a required swimming test, including 15-year-old Jeremiah Perry, who died after disappearing in a lake during the trip.

“I want to ensure that the safety of students is of top priority, and that an incident like this never happens again,” Hunter said on Thursday.

“I know that the TDSB is reviewing its policies and procedures as it relates to outdoor education, and I believe that the Ministry of Education needs to do so as well.”

Hunter said the province’s review will look at school boards’ compliance with their policies on outdoor education.

She added that she met with Perry’s family and expressed her condolences, saying that no family should have to go through what happened.

“It’s very troubling to me that procedures were not followed in this instance,” said Hunter. “This type of incident really affects the school community and I believe it will cause boards to look at their policies and look at their procedures.”

The TDSB has said it has implemented new procedures after Perry’s death — school principals will now have to see a list of students who passed or failed a required swim test before a trip takes place, and parents will be notified if their child passed or failed the test.