When the lunch bell rings at Victoria’s Central Middle School, its a sea of students glued to their screens.

But when the next school year starts, students will have to ditch those cellphones and leave them at home.

“As a staff we hit a point about two months ago where we felt there was very little — if any — educational benefit of students having cellphones in their hands,” says the school’s Principal, Tropher Macintosh. 

In a letter, the school told parents that starting in September, there will be a ban on cellphones.

“It’s not gonna work and it’s just leading up to confrontation between students and parents and staff and they don’t need that,” says Tim Cleves, the father of a grade 7 student at the school. 

Cleves is one of many parents who say the ban is wrong as cellphones are crucial not only for students’ safety, but also to coordinate plans.

“I believe that my daughter has the right to be able to bring a cellphone when she’s going to and from school,” says Cleves, “you can’t just take technology away once it’s been released, it’s in the present and people adjust to it.”

Dr. Kathy Sanford at the University of Victoria’s School of Education, has been looking at the fight between smartphones and schools for years.

“There’s amazing things that can be done with them.” 

Dr. Sanford says there’s more success in following the tech tide, than working against it.

“They’re not going away, there’s gonna be more access, there’s gonna be more of them and kids need to learn how to use them appropriately and not dismiss them.”

But Principal Macintosh says despite disciplinary actions, rules about when students can use the cellphones simply aren’t being followed

“We’ll take five, six, seven cellphones a day. The students just keep them in their pockets and the temptation or the buzz is just too much for some of them, probably most of them.”

The school says they’re giving parents four months notice so families can adjust to the change.

They will also be sending out a survey to parents Wednesday to get feedback and suggestions. 

Isabelle Raghem