With the legalization of cannabis nation-wide, many different organizations were faced with adjusting their policies to adapt to the new normal — including school divisions.
Wolf Creek Public Schools(WCPS) used the opportunity to review many of their polices regarding cannabis, illicit drug, alcohol and tobacco use in their schools.
“With the legislation changing, I think all of us and certainly in the education sector are monitoring and watching carefully how this will potentially impact our students and our community,” WCPS Superintendent Jayson Lovell said.
WCPS went over policies that related to both students and staff within the school division, with the majority of their policies remaining the same and the understanding being that cannabis use — along with drugs, alcohol and tobacco — are not permitted within WCPS schools.
Lovell said it is important for students to be educated on cannabis use and also that they understand there are measures in place to address if students are in possession of, or under the influence of an illicit substance.
“We will cooperate with families, the community and provincial agencies in terms of counselling and rehabilitation,” Lovell said. “What we do know is that we have support in our schools through our social workers for example. We also have other resources that come to us as an educational body to help us work with our students and families when it needs to be addressed.”
Lovell said he is confident in his administrators and their staff and believes this type of education is something that WCPS has done well in the past.
“This isn’t new for us,” he said. “It is an ongoing commitment on the part of our school to ensure there is education and awareness. There is a lot of open dialogue and opportunities for our schools to continue to work with students around education.”
He added there are also many tools within the curriculum to help educate students — including their Career and Life Management Program, which is a high school level course.
Regarding cannabis, Lovell said WCPS wants to ensure that students are educated on consumption, the schools expectations of them and that tools are available for them if a problem develops.
“We have ways to work with students and families to certainly protect the school environment to ensure it is safe, but on the other side we also work very closely with families and students in cases they need additional support,” he said.
Lovell said it is a mandate of WCPS to ensure students have the tools to make healthy lifestyle choices.
“Any substance that impacts the health and well-being of our students, we will continue to educate, inform, advise and guide — anything we need to do to ensure our schools are great learning environments,” he said.
Overall, Lovell said there was negligible costs to this transition, other than the necessary legal counsel provided to the school division.
“I wouldn’t say it was anything out of the ordinary. Any time we review an administrative procedure, what it leads to is dialogue and collaboration to make the necessary changes. There is legal advice that comes with that — we have certainly had a lot of legal advice along the way,” he said.
He added the implementation of this process took place for several months.
“It is not something that has happened over the last week — it has happened over time and doing so, we have been able to prepare,” he said.
He added, “It is a case where we are confident we can move forward without having a major disruption or a major change in how we do business in our schools.”