Ontario to ban cellphones in classrooms for non-educational purposes next year

Judy Cobb
March 16, 2019

Earlier that day, Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson confirmed the province is planning to ban cellphones in elementary and secondary school classrooms in September.

While there are some limited cases in the province of phones being banned in classrooms, the new directive extends to all schools in the province.

"There are still fundamentals that teachers aren't able to perform their daily tasks of teaching [to] children because there are so many distractions in the classrooms", Kehoe says.

A 2015 study from the London School of Economics and Political Science also picked up a correlation between a cellphone ban and improved test scores, especially in lower-achieving students.

No formal announcement has been made yet.

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

McRae agrees with Alberta's education minister that schools and teachers should be given the opportunity to figure out a balance on their own.

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.

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Toronto tried banning cellphones, but found enforcing it to be extremely hard and would impair students from varied learning experiences.

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

The ban follows government conducted education consultations previous year, in which 97 per cent of respondents stated they favoured restrictions on phones in class.

The Green party questioned why a government focused on cutting red tape is introducing "a top-down regulation that complicates things for educators on the front line".

As the Ontario government is looking at banning cellphones in schools, some people are on the fence about whether or not an outright ban is the way to go.

About 97 per cent of respondents favoured some sort of restriction on phones in class, sources told the Canadian Press.

Spokesman Ryan Bird said the TDSB encourages appropriate uses of technology in classrooms.

Superintendent Mark Davidson says the sheer number of phones in schools now would make enforcing a ban impossible.

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