Mixed reaction to cellphone ban in Ontario classrooms

Kelley Robertson
March 16, 2019

Education Minister Lisa Thompson said in a statement Tuesday that a formal announcement is coming soon.

At the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, spokesman Stephen Fields told BlackburnNews.com the board has a policy in place that leaves the use of cell phones in the classroom up to the discretion of the teacher, but it looks forward to reading the directive from the province.

The ban however has support from a 2015 study by the London School of Economics that indicated students performed significantly better when phones are banned during instruction.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) abandoned a cellphone ban policy back in 2011 after officials determined that it was next to impossible to enforce.

Ontario's students need to be able to focus on their learning - not their cellphones.

The ban would apply during LL instructional time, but their would be exceptions for teachers who want to use them as part of a lesson plan, students with special needs and medical reasons.

"I think it's a good idea", says Lynn Hutchinson, a local teacher in Windsor.

While Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner agrees that cellphones can be a distraction, he is critical of what he describes as the government's "top-down regulation" approach.

While input on changing the sex education curriculum dominated headlines, education consultations conducted over the past year gathered feedback on the potential to ban cellphones from classrooms, the Canadian Press article states.

"Schools and teachers have well-established limits and boundaries with regard to cellphone use in schools and the classroom, similar to other classroom expectations, which are designed to create positive learning environments".

"It was the closest thing we got in our consultation to unanimity", one source said. About 97 per cent of respondents favoured some sort of restriction on phones in class.

"Minister Eggen trusts Alberta's teachers and school boards to make their own rules regarding the use of cellphones in their classrooms", he said Tuesday. "I think the teacher should be in control of the technology and so the teacher should be bringing the technology to the classroom". The improvements were largely seen among the students who were normally the lowest achieving.

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