Cellphones banned in public schools starting this fall

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This fall, a new directive limiting the use of cell phones and other personal mobile devices in public schools provincewide will help students stay focused and support teachers.

Starting in the 2024-25 school year, all students will be required to turn off their personal mobile devices and store them out of sight during instructional time. Limited exceptions, like junior high and high school teachers allowing cell phone use in class for instructional purposes, will be available.

Under the directive, elementary school students must have their phones stored during the entire school day. Older students may have the option to use cell phones during lunch and other breaks depending on individual school rules.

“Our priority is doing what is best for students, informed by what we hear directly from students, school staff, families and communities,” said Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “We heard their concerns and, through this new directive, are ensuring students are concentrating on learning and building stronger interpersonal relationships without the distraction of cell phones.”

With this change, there will be processes in schools to ensure parents and students can get in touch if needed, including in an emergency. The directive will also be supported by curriculum resources that help students to use technology safely and responsibly as well as resources for school staff and parents.

Throughout the spring, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development consulted with school advisory councils and ministerial advisory councils, as well as the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union on the use of cell phones in schools. The team also visited schools, spoke directly with principals and teachers and consulted with IWK public health experts. Responses overwhelmingly supported clear, consistent restrictions on cell phone use.

The new directive is available online: https://www.ednet.ns.ca/cellphones

Quick Facts:
– about 800 school advisory council members participated in a virtual town hall and overwhelmingly called for cell phone restrictions
– until now, individual schools set policies for student cell phone use
– for the 2023-24 school year, the Province purchased more than 10,000 new computers and other devices that support student learning
– Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have provincewide restrictions around cell phone use in schools; New Brunswick plans to roll out restrictions in September

Additional Resources:
Video about current cell phone restrictions at Clayton Park Junior High in Halifax: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2jK1n7_R4Q

Information about school advisory councils: https://www.ednet.ns.ca/SAC

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