by Linda Straker
- Educational facilities will be required to abide by revised Drug and Alcohol policy
- As of September 2019, schools will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages at school functions
- 1992 Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act defines educational compounds
All educational facilities in Grenada except for universities and colleges will be required to abide by the revised Drug and Alcohol policy which the Cabinet of Grenada approved in July 2018.
Education minister Emmalin Pierre made the announcement during weekly post-cabinet briefing on Tuesday. The policy which first became a reality in 2002 and is continuously assessed and revised, will cover the period 2018 to 2023.
“It forbids the possession, use, sale and distribution of intoxicating liquor commonly referred to as alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, hemp, controlled drugs, electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes or any mood-altering substances, or any product including juices, water, food, confectionaries which may contain any of the aforementioned substances or drugs, or drug paraphernalia, by schools, organisations, groups, and persons affiliated to the schools, at school functions,” Minister Pierre said.
“So as of September 2019, schools will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages at their school’s functions,” she said.
Dave Alexander who is the head of the Drug Avoidance Secretariat in the Ministry of Education said that the revised policy contains a number of new do’s and don’ts for teachers, support staff and students.
The 1992 Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act defines an educational compound as any nursery school, primary or secondary school, technical institution, training centre, teachers’ college, community college, and national college, or any other educational institution for children or young persons and includes buildings, playing fields or other premises established or maintained by such institutions for the benefit of its pupils or students whether or not such buildings, playing fields or other premises are within the curtilage of the institution.
The policy makes it unlawful for the random drug testing of students. “Random or mandatory drug testing of students by the ministry or any other personnel, except for when such test is requested by parents/guardians, or the court, is forbidden,” said the document which mandates that all reports and incidents of substance used by students with special needs, will be handled in a professional manner to protect the students from undue pressures, stigmatisation and discrimination.
“Staff should not administer non-prescribed medicine to a child unless there is specific prior written permission from the parents, while staff should respect the privacy and dignity for children with medical needs,” the policy recommends.
Alexander said that if a child refuses to take medicine, staff should not force a child to do so. “The policy says that parents should be informed of the refusal immediately. Staff should maintain the confidentiality, privacy and dignity of children with medical needs at all times,” he explains.
Another new initiative is a Consent Form to Treat Students which must be obtained from parents, guardians or other legally responsible persons or institution of the students for the diagnosis and treatment of these students, except where the court orders such diagnosis and treatment.
Alexander said that the revised policy makes its legally wrongful for teachers, school support staff, or education officers to engage in strip searches which include the removal (partial or complete) of any article of clothing, shoes, watches, rings, chains, gloves, etc and to search students’ electronic equipment (mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc) to obtain information regarding drug-related offences.
“Students will be required to hand over contents from bags and we will encourage teachers to take photographs of the contents,” he said while explaining that the policy is aimed at protecting both students and teachers along with support staff in all educational institutions.
It will also be forbidden for persons including teachers, school support staff and parents from being at an educational compound or event of the institution in a drunken state.