The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education (OPASSE) is a revision of the 1999 version of the Ontario Physical Education Safety Guidelines which were developed with the support and encouragement of Ophea, the Ontario School Board’s Insurance Exchange (OSBIE), the Ontario Association for the Support of Physical and Health Educators (OASPHE), the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA),and the Canadian Intramural Recreation Association – Ontario (CIRA-ON). The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education are managed by Ophea and are funded by the Government of Ontario.
The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education writing team and physical educators across Ontario had identified and analyzed reasonable foreseeable risks and had developed these standards to reflect a consensus among qualified persons about procedures that help minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the risk of a preventable accident or injury.
The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education are updated on an annual basis. The annual revision process which is a user-driven process and powered by the Safety and Injury Prevention Advisory Committee (comprised of risk-management professionals including educators, sport organizations, subject matter organizations, etc.) is used to ensure continuing the quality of the safety standards.
The intent of the Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education (OPASSE) is to contribute to an equitable, inclusive and safe education system by providing information and direction that will assist teachers/coaches/intramural supervisors/school administrators with the safe implementation of physical activities for all students to minimize the inherent element of risk.
The information provided in the OPASSE standards will assist teachers/coaches/intramural supervisors/school administrators in fulfilling their obligation to provide a safe environment while promoting and upholding Indigenous rights and human rights. This includes establishing a physically and emotionally safe environment, treating students equitably and with respect, being sensitive to factors that influence individual student learning, understanding systemic barriers that impact students, and preventing and responding to discrimination and harassment. These actions will ensure that every student's right to education is respected and realized, and all members of the school community are welcome and included.
By establishing an equitable, inclusive, and safe learning environment, implementing safe instructional practices, such as the use of logical teaching progressions, as well as the selection of age-appropriate activities in program preparations that take into account the diverse needs of all students and in which all students can safely engage, teachers/coaches/intramural supervisors/school administrators will guard against foreseeable risks.
Impact and Scope
The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education represent the minimum (minimum does not refer to minimal safety standards but to the minimum requirements for safety standards that must be followed in school-based physical activities) standard for risk management practice for school boards in Ontario for curricular and intramural/club physical activities and interschool sports. They focus the attention of teachers, intramural supervisors and coaches on safe practices in order to minimize the element of risk. The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education includes a concussion protocol to help prevent and identify suspected concussions and manage a student’s safe return to learning and physical activity.
Please note that each school board is responsible for developing their own safety policy. Publicly funded school boards in Ontario may RAISE the standards if they wish, but they are strongly encouraged not to LOWER them. Ultimately, the primary responsibility for the safety of students rests with school boards and their employees. Therefore, we strongly recommend that teachers/coaches/intramural supervisors/school administrators check with their school board to ensure alignment with their school board policies.
The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education are divided into Elementary (grades 1-8) and Secondary levels (grades 9-12) including:
With some exceptions, age divisions are not described on activity pages. It is the responsibility of each school board/local athletic association to determine the age appropriateness of these activities. Where ages are determined in activity pages (for example, Rowing, Track and Field (Turbo Javelin/Turbojav)) the standard has been determined by experts in the field.