GUELPH – The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) has approved updates to its smoking and vaping policy.
Changes to the policy, last revised five years ago, were approved at the Oct. 24 board meeting.
The updated Smoke and Vape-Free Environment Policy was published for public consultation from June 14 until Sept. 29.
The UGDSB received 37 responses, most of which were in favour of the changes, according to a report from the board’s Policy and Priorities Committee.
Comments included questions about how the policy addresses smoking in vehicles parked on school property, how the policy is enforced, and what happens when it is violated.
In response, the UGDSB added text to the policy that clarifies where the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA), which guides the UGDSB policy, applies.
The act prohibits holding or smoking lit tobacco or cannabis products in “enclosed workplaces, on school property, and public areas within 20 metres of school property,” according to the UGDSB policy.
Text was also added to “confirm the board’s commitment to protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and in particular Indigenous staff and students [and to] indicate that any accommodations made for the use of tobacco by Indigenous staff or students for traditional Indigenous cultural or spiritual practices are done so under the SFOA and the Ontario Human Rights Code,” according to the committee’s report.
This added text reads: “The Upper Grand District School Board acknowledges the distinct and inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples and is committed to ensuring Indigenous staff and students are not deprived of their rights and are provided with a working and learning environment that is free from racism and discrimination of any kind.”
Text was also added to specify that the above is in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code and includes making accommodations for Indigenous people intending to light or burn tobacco.
Regarding enforcement, the policy states “it is the responsibility of principals and supervisors, and/or Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health to enforce this policy.”
Students caught violating the policy “may be subject to discipline under Policy 503 Safe Schools, [and] as per the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, any individual who violates the prohibition on smoking and vaping … may be charged and may face a fine.”
The UGDSB trustees voted unanimously in favour of approving the updated policy.
It will next be reviewed for the 2027-28 school year.
To read the new policy, visit ugdsb.ca.