Local public school board doesn't support cell phone ban

By Jessie Weisner
March 12, 2019 - 4:55pm Updated: March 12, 2019 - 7:01pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB -- The Province of Ontario has decided to ban cell phones in classroom, aiming to increase focus in classrooms.

However, the Medicine Hat Public School Division doesn’t believe that’s the right decision.

The Ontario government says cell phones distract from learning, and while the local school board agrees, it doesn’t believe banning phones is the right route.

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

“You think of a school that has hundreds or thousands of students coming into the building,” he said. “To say those devices can’t enter the building produces a requirement to make sure they don’t which becomes an impossible task.”

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.

“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.”

Davidson says he trusts school and teachers to set rules for what role cell phones play in their classrooms.

“So we’re very supportive of schools and teachers setting high expectations in terms of how they’re used and we’re uncomfortable with them setting expectations in terms of when they want them seen and when they should not be seen, that’s reasonable,” says Davidson. “What is probably unreasonable is to create a rule that says they shall not be present at all because it’s an unenforceable expectation.”
In Ontario, enforcing the ban will be up to individual boards and schools.

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