New restrictions on mobile phones in Ontario schools will mean few practical changes when they come into effect in November, local school boards indicate.
The changes made by the provincial government are set for November 4, applying largely to classroom instructional time, with exceptions made for health, special needs or educational reasons.
“There’s no real impact on us,” said John Shewchuk, chief managing officer of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board in an email. “What the government has announced is already our current practice – using mobile technology to support our learning environment.”
He pointed to a specific policy, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), that is part of the board’s strategy to address the use of technology in the classroom.
“A big part of that involves teaching respect for and responsible use communications technologies,” said Shewchuk. “So, there’s really not a ‘cell phone ban’ at all.”
The move comes from a public consultation on education reforms conducted in fall 2018. The Progressive Conservative government claims that 97 per cent of the parents, students and teachers supported some restriction on mobile phones in the classroom.
The government then updated its Provincial Code of Conduct, and school boards across the province were given an early-November deadline to review their current procedures and update their own codes of conduct to be consistent with the Ministry of Education directive.
“To be perfectly honest, that has been our practice for many years that there are restrictions that are in place for various schools depending on the age of the student, the use of technology in the classroom, all those types of things,” said Graham Shantz, a superintendent with the Waterloo Region District School Board.
“Technology has been a reality that we’re facing in school systems for many, many years. Hence why practices have already been established in many of our sites.”