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Ontario to ban cellphones from classrooms for non-educational purposes

14 March 2019

The school board does have policies within schools and classrooms to moderate phone use, but Davidson says it's important to have a conversation with student about when it's okay to use cell phones, instead of outright banning them.

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

Doug Ford's Tories proposed the ban during last year's election campaign.

The board previously admitted that enforcing a complete ban was almost impossible, and indicated that limiting the use of technology in the classroom would consequently restrict educational opportunities.

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The formal announcement of the ban is expected in the near future.

According to government sources, there would be some exceptions, like if a teacher wanted to use phones for their lesson, for medical reasons and for students with special needs.

"It falls to us to make sure that we have expectations for students around how they use those devices ethically and effectively", says Davidson "And how we supervise students to help ensure that they don't use them in a way that damages the learning of themselves or of others".

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

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"Teachers have developed classroom management strategies that incorporate their supervised use during instruction", the council said in a statement.

Nova Scotia's education minister says the province won't ban cellphones in classrooms. "I think it's important to understand what the government is trying to do as an objective, what kind of behaviour are we trying to target with this".

For example, in Canada's capital, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has an Appropriate Use of Technology policy.

Education consultation surveys from a year ago suggested that approximately 97 percent of respondents supported some form of restriction on phones in class, according to the government sources.

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"Students need to be discerning digital citizens and opportunities should be provided within the curriculum to allow students to safely explore various uses and risks of technology in an intentionally guided and supportive environment", the association wrote. "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.

Ontario to ban cellphones from classrooms for non-educational purposes