Ontario to ban smartphone use from public schools next year

By Jessie Weisner

By Jessie Weisner

The Canadian Press has learned that Ontario is set to announce this week that cellphones will be banned in classrooms, starting in the next school year.

CTV News Toronto has confirmed that the Ministry of Education will change the code of conduct for students and teachers, implementing a ban on smartphone use during class time but allowing local school boards to decide how to enforce the new rules.

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. "It's making sure that you create a culture where we know where the boundaries are".

"I don't want to bring my electronics to school because, if it gets stolen or if it breaks, I don't want to be responsible for that", says Matteo Daher. The board also felt that a strict no-technology ban could potentially limit education opportunities.

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

Ontario students will no longer be able to use their cellphones in the classroom next September, as Premier Doug Ford makes good on a populist campaign promise.

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

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".

The Tory government conducted education consultations past year, and while input on the sex-education curriculum dominated headlines, feedback was also gathered on a potential classroom cellphone ban.

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.

"When the school day starts, the phones go off", one senior government source said. Results found that 97 per cent of respondents wanted some sort of control over cellphone use in class.

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

Teacher Ben Sichel is not in favour of a cellphone ban.

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