Cellphone ban for Ontario students will start 2 months into school year
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Thursday, August 29, 2019 9:53AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 29, 2019 7:01PM EDT
A cellphone ban for students across Ontario will go into effect two months into the upcoming school year.
As of Nov. 4, the use of personal mobile devices inside classrooms across the province will be restricted during “instructional time,” the Progressive Conservative government announced on Thursday.
“When in class students should be focused on their studies, not their social media,” Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said.
“That’s why we are restricting cellphones and other personal mobile devices in the classroom, while making sure technology is available to help students achieve success in the digital economy and modern workforce.”
The Ontario government added that exceptions to the ban will be made if “cellphones are required for health and medical purposes, to support special education needs, or for education purposes as directed by an educator.”
Speaking to reporters regarding the ban, Lecce said kids today are “not focused on the subject at hand.”
“This is really premised on a belief that there are too many distractions facing young people in the province of Ontario,” he said.
“My message to young people is, obviously as a government and as a generational public servant, I want to embrace technology in the classroom for the purpose of learning for scholastic achievement. Obviously, in a digital economy we appreciate the need for that platform to exist, however if it’s not for learning, it’s not to be in the classroom.”
The two months from the start of the school year to when the new ban goes into effect will provide a “sufficient timeframe” to all those involved, Lecce said.
“We recognize this is a new approach to how we are creating that accountability and how we’re trying to enable young people to focus on learning,” he said. “So given that we’ve given that roadmap, that additional two months, we think that all parties will be able to implement the plan well.”
The government said 97 per cent of parents, students and teachers, who participated in an educational reform consultation in fall 2018, said “cellphone use should be restricted in some way.”
Previously the Toronto District School Board abandoned a cellphone ban policy implemented back in 2011 after officials determined that it was next to impossible to enforce.
“Maybe in math class you’re using it simply as a calculator, maybe in history class you’re using it for research – it makes sense,” a spokesperson for the school board, Ryan Bird, said earlier this year. “But, a distraction is a distraction, regardless of if it’s a cellphone or not.”
In response, Lecce said he believes a “provincial approach” on the matter will be more beneficial.
“Historically, some boards did have this type of restriction, however as with many of the restrictions put in place, or protocols put in place, it was a disjointed approach.”
Lecce added that the ministry is readily available to help those with concerns regarding the ban before and after it is implemented.