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Quebec: cell phones banned in class as of December 31

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The directive applies to public elementary and secondary schools.

The Canadian Press

Quebec's new directive banning cell phones in classrooms will come into force after the holiday break, making the province the second to implement such a measure, after Ontario.

The directive, which aims to reduce distractions in the classroom, comes into force on December 31.

It applies to primary and secondary schools in public sector, but it gives teachers the option to let students use their phones for specific educational purposes.

Many Quebec schools had already adopted rules limiting the use of cell phones in class before Education Minister Bernard Drainville introduced the ban in August.

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This directive from the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, comes into force on December 31. (Archive photo)

However, some people working with children believe that it is in the children's interest to make restrictions as severe as possible.

A few days before the Legault government's announcement, Étienne Bergeron, a high school teacher in Warwick, in Center-du-Québec, launched a petition asking the government to ban cell phones everywhere on school grounds. school.

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He would have liked to see all personal devices banned in schools, even in hallways, public spaces, libraries, everywhere.

According to him, if a teacher wants his students to use a cell phone for educational purposes, this must be clearly defined.

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Étienne Bergeron is a high school teacher in Warwick, in Centre-du-Québec, who educates his students about the use of social networks. (File photo)

Mr. Bergeron says he is not opposed to technology. He runs his school's creative lab and teaches students programming, music and video game design. that its courses use digital tools to develop the mind, and not to surf online aimlessly.

The reality is that when young people are on their phones, they are on TikTok, they play games… I am convinced that it is not the mission of Quebec schools to leave our young people ahead these devices which literally make them antisocial.

A quote from Étienne Bergeron, high school teacher

According to the Quebec Ministry of Education, all schools must have a policy limiting the use of cell phones in class by December 31. It will be up to each school service center (CSS) to provide sanctions for students who do not respect the rules.

Certain CSS, including that of Montreal, as well as the English Montreal School Board, have had rules in place for some time prohibiting the use of cell phones in class outside of authorized classes.

In Ontario, teachers' unions deplore that the ban imposed by the province in 2019 is not respected and that cell phones are regularly present in classrooms.

At the Toronto District School Board – Canada's largest school board – President Rachel Chernos Lin introduced a motion to revisit the issue in January and develop a strong new cell phone ban policy.

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Toronto District School Board President Rachel Chernos Lin is proposing to review the electronic device policy in all 583 schools. (Archive photo)

I wish he There's something that has a bit of a bite to it, but ultimately I hope we create a culture around cell phone use that's different from what we have today. .

A quote from Rachel Chernos Lin, President of the Toronto District School Board

A professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of x27;Ottawa, Joel Westheimer, is not surprised that the Toronto school board wants to reopen the debate, because he believes that the Ontario rule is extremely flawed. It was not written in such a way that it really applied to the entire province, he explains.

The issue of cell phones has been at the forefront since a UNESCO report concluded in July that they could disrupt communication ;learning. Mr. Drainville said the report spurred him to action.

Several countries have gone further than Quebec and Ontario. In 2018, France banned phones in schoolyards for those under 15, while China banned phones for schoolchildren in 2021.

The British government announced in October that it would publish guidelines to help school leaders who want to ban phones in schools, adding that its measure would be in line with previous bans similar in Italy and Portugal.

Many jurisdictions around the world have implemented cell phone bans and have seen very positive results. Students are less distracted, they are more engaged, and we have even seen academic progress and a reduction in loneliness.

A quote from Joel Westheimer, professor at the Faculty of Education at ;University of Ottawa

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Joel Westheimer, professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa (Archive photo)

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The president of the Federation of Parents' Committees of Quebec, Mélanie Laviolette, welcomes these rules.

What we hope is that our children are in the best possible position to learn, so not having TikTok at hand is a good thing, argues Ms. Laviolette.

The director of the Association of English-Speaking Parents' Committees, Katherine Korakakis, called the government's decision a missed opportunity that avoids addressing issues such as technology addiction, media literacy or fake news and instead focuses on punitive measures.

I think courses on digital citizenship, use of technology , addiction and these types of topics with students would have a much greater impact than taking away a phone, she says.

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