Education Minister confirms cellphone ban coming to classrooms this fall

Queen's Park ready to act

Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson has confirmed reports cellphones will be banned from classrooms as of this fall.

“Beginning next school year, cellphones will no longer be allowed in the classroom unless they are required for educational purposes, health and medical purposes, or to support special needs. By banning cellphone use that distracts from learning, we are helping students to focus on acquiring the foundational skills they need like reading, writing and math. We will be making a formal announcement in the near future.”

The Conservatives had proposed the ban during last year’s election campaign.

Thompson says, “Ontario’s students need to be able to focus on their learning – not their cellphones,” noting that during last fall’s consultations on education in Ontario 97% of respondents supported some form of a ban on cellphones.

In Britain, students’ academic skills improved when schools started banning cellphones around 2010.

PARENTS BALK AT BAN?

However, in the United States, a survey last year from the National Center for Education Statistics exploring crime and safety at schools found a trend toward relaxing student smartphone bans. This came largely at the request of parents who wanted their children to have phones so they could easily stay in touch and able to dial their parent or an outside authority for help in an emergency.