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Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education, Screen shot, April 28, 2024

New rules coming for cell phone use and vaping in schools

By Randy Thoms Apr 28, 2024 | 2:21 PM

Efforts to reduce students’ use of cell phones and vaping in schools will become stiffer this September.

The new provincewide policy will prohibit cellphone use in class and vaping products in schools and grounds.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says it is part of efforts to reduce distractions in classrooms and improve the health of children.

School boards have long had policies in place.

Lecce says the new province-wide policy will standardize and strengthen those measures.

“It is stronger. It is clear. It is consistent, and I think it’s going to make a difference in changing the behaviour and culture within our schools,” says Lecce.

Students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will be required to keep phones on silent and out of sight for the entire school day unless otherwise permitted by an educator.

For students in Grades 7 to 12, cell phones will not be permitted in class during class time instruction unless permitted.

School boards will be instructed to remove social media websites from all school networks and devices.

Lecce says report cards will now include comments on students’ distraction levels in class.

“I think parents should know and be able to measure success and hopefully improvements in how we change the culture of education and enforcement with the additional resources, the 17 million we’re announcing today.”

Fifteen million will go toward program supports that help students at risk of addictive behaviours.

The rest will go toward education programs and prevention campaigns around vaping and excessive cellphone usage.

A study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that 35% of Ontario high school students spend five hours or more each day on electronic devices.

In 2022, Statistics Canada found vaping to be more common among young people than older Canadians, with more than one-fifth of adolescents aged 15 to 17 years admitting to vaping.