A recent cell phone ban imposed in Quebec schools is raising questions about the possibility of a similar provincial policy in British Columbia.
On Monday, the first day back to school after winter break, the BC United party reaffirmed its pledge to ban cell phones in kindergarten through Grade 12 classrooms.
“I do believe it should be a provincial policy. Kids are here to learn and they’re a big distraction having phones in the class,” said Bryan Rodier, a Wellington High School parent in Nanaimo.
“I feel that they should have access to their cell phones, but I understand that they also text their friends,” added Cathy Scheske, another parent who said she’s opposed to a provincial ban.
Quebec’s new ban on cell phones in classrooms starts this week and it has the BC United Party reaffirming its position that, if elected, phones should be banned from classrooms.
“Cell phone use is a huge distraction for our kids in our school system. It means that they perform worse and they’re not learning as well as they could be,” said Kevin Falcon, the leader of the BC United Party.
“We will work with the education establishment to fund cell phone lockers so we can have kids arrive in the morning, put their cell phones in secure lockers, go to their classrooms, and at the end of the day pick up their phones and leave.”
The BC Conservative Party says it doesn’t see the need for a provincial ban.
“What I would like actually to see is to try and embrace the new technology. Most people have cell phones. Is there a way we can actually utilize cell phones to enhance our education system as opposed to seeing them as a problem,” said John Rustad, the BC Conservative leader.
The B.C. government allows school districts to make their own decisions, though, in a statement to CHEK News, it says it is evaluating the issue.
The chair of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School Board says while it’s clear cell phones can be bad for students’ mental health, he doesn’t support a provincial ban in schools.
“Teachers know their classroom best, and I think teachers should have the ability to implement plans and programs that make the most sense for them in the classrooms at the local level,” said Greg Keller.
Some Nanaimo-Ladysmith schools already have policies limiting cell phones in classrooms.
Keller says if there are cell phone bans schools need to have realistic enforcement plans because teachers already have enough work on their plate.
At one high school in Langford, the rules recently tightened around the use of cell phones.