While students at two Thunder Bay high schools may be turning in jeans and T-shirts in favour of school uniforms next September, both the Northwest Catholic District School Board and the Rainy River District School Board have no such plans for now.
“It came up at one school council meeting last spring but nothing has come of it since,” noted Carol-Lynne Oldale, director of education for the local separate school board.
She said such a decision could not be done without the support of the community but did add it may be something the Ministry of Education eventually may enforce as a “safety measure” in schools.
“The ministry is currently focused on curriculum but in four years, we might hear from their mandate. Personally, I’d like to wait until then,” Oldale remarked.
School uniforms are no closer to becoming policy at the local public school board, either. “[The issue has] never come up,” Education Director Warren Hoshizaki said.
“It’s just ‘no hats’ [and] the basic dress code,” he added, referring to the board’s regulation of identifying and reacting to “inappropriate” dress, such as T-shirts with offensive graphics or slogans.
Hoshizaki noted he had no opinion on enforcing school uniforms, calling it a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis.
“I think it’s something that should be handled by school administration, parents, and the community as a whole,” he stressed. “It’s very specific to each school, and something that should be decided on that basis.”
But Oldale, who was superintendent of the Thunder Bay Roman Catholic District School Board when the uniform issue first came up about two years ago, was not as indifferent.
“I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing them,” she said.
“What’s happened with uniforms is that they’ve changed from what we used to see. They’re much more in line with what kids feel comfortable wearing.
“Plus, I really think uniforms give you some school spirit,” she added.
St. Patrick and St. Ignatius of Thunder Bay are the only two schools that are expected to enforce a uniform policy in Northwestern Ontario.
The uniforms at these schools will consist of black slacks, skirts, and monogrammed Oxford-style shirts, golf shirts, V-neck sweaters, sweatshirts, fleece vest, and zip pullovers.
If students arrive at school without uniforms, they won’t be admitted to class.
Senior students will be able to apply for an exemption from the uniform policy but they still won’t be able to wear hats or objectionable dress in school.
Families who may find the cost of the uniforms unreasonable may receive assistance from the supplier.