New provincial cell phone restrictions have no impact on local school board practices

GUELPH – The new “cell phone ban” put in place by the provincial government will have no impact on either Wellington County school board.

Both the Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board said their practices surrounding personal mobile devices already align with the new provincial code of conduct.

“The Upper Grand’s current practice around mobile devices aligns with the new legislation,” spokesperson Heather Loney said.

“So there were no changes required to our board’s procedures.

“So the use of mobile devices in classrooms has always been at the discretion of teachers.”

Wellington Catholic superintendent Michelle Sawa said her school board was in a similar position.

“Our policy has been updated to align with the new provincial policy; it is important to note that our practices across the system already support these expectations so changes will be limited in terms of what will happen on the ground in our classrooms and schools,” she wrote in an email.

However, Stephen Lecce, minister of education, spoke about the cell phone restriction as a new concept.

“Our government heard clearly from parents and educators about the growing challenge related to distracted students in the classroom,” Lecce said.

“When in class, students should be focused on their studies and not on social media.

“The cell phone restrictions … is another step forward in providing a focused and academically-enriched learning environment for our students.”

Sawa said that before the new code of conduct, and now that the new policy is in place cell phones could be used:

– for educational purposes as directed by an educator;

– for health and medical purposes; and

– to support special education needs.

Loney said students in the Upper Grand can use their personal mobile devices in similar situations.

“There isn’t actually a change in practice with this revision, it might be different in different school boards, but for us this aligned already with our current practices,” Loney said.

Some of the ways students could use mobile devices for educational purpose is to complete research or to use an online learning community, Loney said.