Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Tech | By Constance Martin

Mixed reaction to cellphone ban in Ontario classrooms

Mixed reaction to cellphone ban in Ontario classrooms

The Ford government says it will soon fulfill a key election campaign promise - to ban cellphones from Ontario classrooms when students return to school this fall.

Some schools already have similar policies, but the province will issue a directive to all public schools for the 2019-20 school year. About 97 percent of respondents said they would support some form of a ban on cellphones.

In a statement, Thompson said Ontario's students need to be able to focus on their learning, not their cellphones.

Although the Toronto District School Board had previously implemented a cellphone ban, it was reversed four years after its introduction to allow teachers to decide how to best manage cellphone use in their classrooms.

London District Catholic school board superintendent Ana Paula Fernandes said the new rules will not likely affect its cellphone policy.

"It could be a good thing, but also a bad thing", says grade 9 student Laura Newman.

Our Government will be introducing a ban on cellphones in the classroom. Many of those policies allow teachers to set the terms of when and how cellphones can be used in class.

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"It just literally made it so that teachers and principals and vice-principals were spending so much time enforcing the ban or attempting to enforce the ban, taking away phones, coming up with appropriate consequences, it just became completely unmanageable", he told CBC's Mainstreet.

The province says it will be up to individual schools and school boards.

NDP education critic Marit Stiles noted that a recent memo from the education ministry advised school boards to defer filling vacancies for retirements and other leaves for teachers and other staff until a promised update by March 15.

The PCs did propose the ban when they were campaigning past year. Exemptions include lesson plans that integrate phones and for students with medical and/or special needs.

The researcher for the Alberta Teachers Association said he doesn't think a ban will work.

Instead, McRae said schools should be helping students find a healthy balance for their cellphone use. The improvements were largely seen among the students who were normally the lowest achieving.

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