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Vancouver banning cellphones in kindergarten to Grade 7 classrooms


Starting in September, Vancouver students from kindergarten to Grade 7 won’t be able to have their cellphones out at school.

The move comes after a vote from Vancouver School Board (VSB) trustees Monday night, following months of consultation with stakeholders.

"Their phones, if they're on the property, will have to (be) in their bag or locker on silent,” said VSB chair Victoria Jung.

The ban does not currently apply to students in grade 8 to 12.

It’s part of the VSB’s update of it code of conduct.

“This updated school code of conduct will help unify teachers as well," Jung said. "Things have been happening on a school level – this is a little bit more of a direction from the district."

Jung pointed out the difficult balance between eliminating distraction and allowing critical thinking while also preparing students for life outside of the classroom.

For former VSB chair Patti Bacchus, utilizing technology in the classroom outweighs any negatives that it brings.

“We’re not going backwards, students will be living their life with technology – they’ve grown up with that,” said Bacchus. “I think the key here is for the education system to be using this as an opportunity to educate students how to harness this technology and use it constructively."

She highlighted the importance of cellphones in the school, outside of the classroom.

Some students who struggle with social anxiety turn to their cellphone during break, while some siblings text each other about pick-up locations and times. Others use their devices to check in on their after-school job.

Two trustees voted against the motion Monday night, including One City's Jennifer Reddy, who would have liked to see more consultation.

“There are outstanding concerns around how we actually currently and will continue to address online bullying, device addiction and balancing that with the way that students already use technology for learning.”

Many students use cellphones for wayfinding in school or accessing learning tools, Reddy added.

The school board said students will still be able to use their phones at the teacher’s discretion.

Jung was asked if she thinks grade 8 to 12 students could face similar restrictions, but she told CTV News she “didn’t know” and would be working with stakeholders.

“Some people think that digital devices should be banned altogether, some people think that its an important tool, I often think both things,” said Jung. Top Stories

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