The condition of a Grade 9 Brantford Collegiate Institute student who suffered critical head injuries in the school’s gymnasium last week is improving, his family said on Wednesday.
Harrison Eley, 14, remains in a Hamilton hospital. Eley sustained multiple skull fractures in the Feb. 11 incident, in which he was pinned between a moveable wall and a permanent wall shortly after 9 a.m. during gym class.
“He’s doing quite well,” his mother Audrey Bowen said during an interview. “He is alert, he is making conversation, he’s walking and doing things for himself.”
Bowen said Harrison’s hearing and eyesight continue to improve. The family will have a better idea of when he might leave hospital by the end of this week.
“He is in the pediatric ward now, not in the intensive care unit,” Bowen said. “He still has a long road ahead of him and there are still some unknowns, such as when he could return to school.”
The Grand Erie District School Board on Wednesday afternoon released a list of actions and procedures to be enacted in schools that have moveable walls. The actions were compiled by senior GEDSB staff following an inquiry into the Feb. 11 incident.
GEDSB director of education John Forbeck said the board has reviewed its policies on movable partitions in the interest of improving student safety.
“Student safety is of paramount concern to us at the Grand Erie District School Board,” Forbeck said. “When the safety of a student or staff member is compromised, we need to learn from the incident, review our current practices and take action to prevent injuries in the future.”
The actions to be enacted by the board include installing signs at schools explaining the safe and proper operation and supervision of the partitions, installing additional safety systems in each school and training to be conducted with appropriate staff members on new procedures.
Specific procedures approved by the board on the operation of partitions include:
• When possible, electric partitions should be operated outside of instructional time.
• Before operation, check the door pocket to be certain that it is clear of persons and obstacles.
• Ensure that all students within the area are under supervision. Direct students to stand back at least 10 feet and do not allow crossing between adjacent rooms while the partition is in motion.
• There shall be no student activity in designated spaces while the partitions are closing.
• When extending or retracting the partition, trained personnel must be stationed on both sides of the partition. All students must be in sight of the operators.
• Only trained personnel are to operate the wall equipment.
• The switch operators must be at the control switch at all times while the partition is in motion and never leave the equipment unattended while it is in motion.
• Report any problems with the equipment immediately to building custodians or maintenance offices.
“Minimizing the risk of student injuries is a critical component to promoting a safe learning environment,” Forbeck said. “We trust that the new operating procedures will strengthen our practices and result in fewer injuries.”