The Toronto District School Board is introducing measures to ensure student safety on school trips after Jeremiah Perry drowned during an Algonquin Park canoe trip.
The 15-year-old Grade 9 student slipped under the water while swimming in a lake with his classmates in the back country of Algonquin Park on July 4. His disappearance prompted a day of rescue efforts and the evacuation of his classmates.
Perry’s body was found the next day.
In a report released by the TDSB on Wednesday, safety measures for future excursions are explained in detail. These mean that any student who has failed his or her swim test will not be allowed to participate in any activities involving water. If students pass the first swim test, they will also need to pass a second on location of the trip in open water. It will be supervised by lifeguards and teachers. If students fail the second test, they are also banned from participating in any water-related activities during the excursion.
If both tests are succesfully completed, then the students are allowed to swim and take part in activites on the water, but must wear a lifejacket at all times. Swim results of these tests will be given to the student, their parents or guardians and the principal.
TDSB policy requires that all students going on such trips pass a canoe swim test at a third-party facility on a lake. If they don’t pass that test, they have a second opportunity to pass with one-on-one swimming lessons at the C.W. Jeffreys pool.
TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said, “These procedures and guidelines have been in place since September.” But Wednesday night, he said the report was provided to the TDSB Committee, updating them on the safety initiatives put in place since Perry’s death.
School officials said, in August, that Perry was among the 15 students in the trip who failed a required swim test. Two of the students didn’t take the test at all.
Perry went to C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute in North York. He started at the school in October after immigrating to Canada from Guyana.
The drowning is still under investigation by Ontario Provincial Police, said provincial police spokesperson Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne.
With files from Andrea Gordon, Victoria Gibson and Emma McIntosh