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Access zones now in place to protect kids at school

May 31, 2024

B.C.’s K-12 students and staff will be protected from harassing protesters as the Province enacts access zones around schools. 

“Every kid and teacher in our province has the right to go to school without being disrupted by aggressive or hateful protests,” said Premier David Eby. “Our government is taking action to protect kids and ensure schools remain safe spaces by establishing no-go zones for protestors. I want people who think it’s OK to intimidate or harass kids while they’re trying to learn or play at school to know that what you’re doing is now illegal.”

The Safe Access to Schools Act gives the Province the legal authority to prohibit people from interfering with safe access to school grounds. This includes behaviour such as yelling that causes disruptions to school programs and activities or holding signs with slogans that cause concern for the safety of students and staff.

Since the start of the school year, 20 schools have been targeted as sites by disruptive protestors. While everyone has a right to freedom of expression, using access zones as a tool to legally prevent harassment of kids and staff within specified hours and spaces around learning environments will better protect everyone in schools and help keep the focus on learning. 

“Ensuring every child can access the education they need to succeed without fear or intimidation is our top priority,” said Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care. “A child’s learning environment should be a safe and inclusive one, and we're doing what is needed to keep kids safe at school.” 

Access zones are in place at K-12 schools and police can arrest or issue tickets to anyone found impeding access, disrupting or interfering with educational activities, or attempting to intimidate an individual within 20 metres (66 feet) of school property. The zones will be in effect on school days from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and during extracurricular school activities at all of B.C.’s K-12 public and independent schools, with limited exceptions.

“While everyone has a right to freedom of expression, including peaceful protest, disrupting children’s learning environment is not appropriate,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “We are taking action to protect kids and make sure that schools are places where both students and staff feel safe, respected and welcome.”

The health, safety and well-being of kids and those teaching and coaching extracurricular school activities at school is a top priority for the B.C. government. This law is supported by many of B.C.’s education partners, such as the BC School Trustees Association, the BC Teachers Federation, the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils and CUPE BC, among others.

This law is part of the Province’s commitment to keeping people safe, which includes further actions taken by the provincial government to protect youth from online threats and restrict cellphone use in schools.

Quick Facts:

  • An access zone is an area where specified forms of harmful behaviour are not allowed. Within the access zone, it is now an offence to engage in behaviours that can harm students and staff or disrupt school programs.  
  • Schools and school districts can call the police to intervene if they are concerned that behaviour within an access zone may be harmful to others.  
  • The distance was chosen to provide a reasonable amount of space between protests or harmful behaviour and students in schools trying to learn.
  • This legislation was passed on May 16, 2024.

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