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Restricting cellphones in Vancouver schools back on board agenda

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Restricting cell phones in Vancouver’s public schools is back on the agenda at Monday’s board meeting.

The premier announced earlier this year that districts would be required to have “appropriate” policies in place limiting students’ use of devices by the start of the 2024-2025 school year.

The province stopped short of saying what exactly those policies would need to be but did say codes of conduct would need to be updated to have “one or more statements about restricting the use of personal digital devices at school on device use in place.”

In Vancouver, one measure being proposed would update schools’ codes of conduct for kids in Kindergarten through Grade 6 so that they “will be required to keep phones on silent and out of sight for the entire school day unless they get explicit permission from an educator,” according to the motion coming before the board.

A policy for middle and high schools is not spelled out, rather, the motion asks that the board agree to direct the superintendent to have policies proposed and a plan for implementation in place by July 1. In addition, a working group would be struck to monitor the impact of the policies and adapt them if necessary.

“The overuse of electronic devices, particularly cell phones, among our younger students has been associated with distractions, setbacks in social development, and hindrances to academic performance,” the motion says.

“Our students require guidance to navigate the addictive nature of these devices and to learn responsible usage. It is our collective responsibility to educate them and foster habits that prioritize learning without distractions.”

The motion coming to Monday’s meeting first came to the board on April 29 but was referred to committee. However, when the committee met there were not enough trustees in attendance to reach quorum, resulting in it being sent back to the board.

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