What is our commitment?

The WRDSB and the staff of the Research and Evidence-Based Practice Department are committed to protecting the confidentiality of all student data. We have aligned our process to ensure that we meet the regulations and best practices laid out in the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act of Ontario, and the guidelines for collecting data for identities protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism.

The legislation and guidelines above have informed how the WRDSB has designed the Student Census, which will ask students (or their parent/guardian) to voluntarily provide personal information.

How will we protect the confidentiality of data?

The WRDSB Student Census process adheres to all freedom of information and privacy laws (i.e. MFIPPA). We are committed to ensuring that all personal information collected from students will remain restricted to WRDSB staff who require the information for the purposes of conducting research. By default, the only WRDSB staff members with access to individual student information will be members of the Research Department. Information Technology (IT) Services staff may be granted access to individual student information, as needed, to provide technical support for data management purposes.

Personal identifying information will only be used for the purposes of linking student census data to existing student data. Research Department staff will create a de-identified data file by linking student census data to existing student data using unique student ID numbers. Once the information from the student census and the existing student data has been linked, Research Department staff will remove all personally identifying information from the data file prior to conducting analyses and preparing reports.

The individual responses provided in the student census will remain on encrypted password-protected servers and on password-protected laptops accessible only by WRDSB Research Department staff of WRDSB’s Research and Evidence-Based Practice Department. The research staff is committed to ensuring that raw data (individual responses) are never viewed by any unauthorized persons.

Individual student information will never be shared in any documents or reports that are prepared from the Student Census. The results will be reported in a summarized format (including anonymous data files which are required under the Anti-Racism act), meaning that all responses will be combined with the information of other students to ensure that the confidentiality of individual student responses remains protected. Any research findings that represent a small number of students will not be included in reports. The analysis and reporting process will use a data suppression protocol, meaning that any research results that represent less than 15 individual students will not be shared. Data suppression is used to ensure that the data is grouped in a way that will not allow the readers of any prepared reports or documents to identify the specific responses provided by any of the students who participated in the census.

Finally, to ensure that students and parents/guardians have full control of what information is collected by the board, the entire questionnaire is voluntary. This means that students and parents/guardians can choose to opt-out of the Student Census. Students and parents/guardians who complete the census can also decide which questions they wish to answer and which questions they prefer not to answer. Please visit our website for information on the opt-out procedures for students and parents/guardians.

How will we maintain data security?

The WRDSB Student Census will be implemented using the online survey platform Qualtrics. To ensure that data will remain secure using this platform, WRDSB research staff with support from the WRDSB privacy officer conducted a Service Provider Privacy Security Assessment in 2019.

Using WRDSB’s security assessment tool, research staff reviewed Qualtrics’ publicly available data security documents and submitted our draft of the assessment with follow up questions to Qualtrics staff to gather further details and validate our assessment of their data security protocols. The assessment confirmed that Qualtrics’ privacy protocols adhere to Canadian and international standards for data security. It also confirmed that Qualtrics will not access data collected by the WRDSB without the permission of an authorized member of the WRDSB research department. Qualtrics staff does not access or share any of the survey data that is collected by the WRDSB as part of their business practice.

WRDSB’s Research and Evidence-Based Practice Department has developed a data retention plan to ensure that data is managed and deleted in an appropriate fashion. All identifiable Student Census data will be kept on encrypted servers and password protected devices. Data will be securely disposed of as per the WRDSB Records and Retention Schedule. Keeping data for a specific number of years allows important information to be available to help measure changes in our system over time.

Review the full copy of the Privacy Impact Assessment conducted by WRDSB Research staff and the Privacy and Records Information Management Officer.

For more information on the WRDSB Student Census data security and privacy protocols, please contact WRDSB Research Department at research@wrdsb.ca or the WRDSB Freedom of Information and Privacy Office at privacy@wrdsb.ca.