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Ontario to ban cellphones from classrooms starting next school year

14 March 2019

In an announcement Tuesday, Ontario's Education Minister said mobile phones will not be allowed in school classrooms starting in September which is the beginning of the next school year.

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

"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".

Thompson has said exceptions would be made when teachers want to use cellphones as part of their lesson, for medical reasons and for students with special needs.

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

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.

One of these government sources explained to CTV News, "When the school day starts, the phones go off".

While Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner agrees that cellphones can be a distraction, he is critical of what he describes as the government's "top-down regulation" approach.

The ban comes on the heels of a public consultation conducted a year ago.

Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, said it doesn't sound like the policy will differ from what is already happening in schools.

The province says it will be up to individual schools and school boards.

"What I think is problematic is when people use their phones to text their friends either within the classroom or outside the classroom-and would not be condoned for use [by] the teacher".

Cellphones will soon be banned in Ontario classrooms.

The Ontario Public School Boards' Association did not provide comment Tuesday, but in its submission to the government consultations it had urged the province to continue allowing school boards to make their own decisions.

However, surveys conducted by the Conservative government found that 97 percent of respondents favored a cellphone ban.

This isn't the first time such a ban has been in place.

That means students could use them in between classes, at lunch, and during after-school activities.

Ontario to ban cellphones from classrooms starting next school year