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N.B. looking at school cellphone rule changes

By Brad Perry May 1, 2024 | 1:02 PM

New Brunswick is looking to tighten rules surrounding cellphone use in schools.

The Department of Education told our newsroom that it is working on updates to Policy 311.

A spokesperson said the changes will address cellphone use “in a more stringent way.”

“The department will be bringing forward those modifications in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Policy 311 defines the minimum standards for appropriate use of information and communication technologies in schools.

Under the current policy, schools must develop their own guidelines concerning the appropriate use of personal devices.

“In cases of undesirable use, school personnel may confiscate a student’s personal device,” read the policy.

But it also notes that personal devices can be “essential tools” in many cases, such as where the student uses them for accessibility, critical communication purposes, or medical reasons.

In those cases, the policy says, school staff need to discuss other methods of dealing with “undesirable device usage.”

Over the weekend, Ontario announced plans to limit cellphone use in classrooms starting in September.

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 have long had policies in place, but Ontario’s education minister said the province-wide policy will standardize and strengthen those measures.