School boards across the province must develop policies and procedures surrounding students with service animals by January 1, 2020.
Just over half of school boards in the province have policies in place currently, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said during an announcement in Kitchener on Monday morning.
A service animal is defined as any animal that provides support to a person with a disability, a memorandum from the province says.
“Anything the province can do to create a framework … to support children who need service animals is a positive step forward and it’s a realization that we can do more to provide that inclusive environment for our children,” Lecce said.
Lecce said Kitchener South-Hespeler MPP Amy Fee was a driving force behind asking school boards to create service animal policies. Fee’s son, Kenner, has a service dog.
“It wasn’t just my son and I found other families across the province who were struggling to get their service animals into class,” Fee said.
Fee said she hopes school boards will develop policies that will allow children with service animals to bring them into the classroom, while also taking into consideration allergies or phobias.
She said they need to make sure “all sides are looked at equally to try and see if that’s the best option for the student.”