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Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district leaving cellphone rules up to schools for now

School District 68 will consult with stakeholders to develop district-wide policy
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This coming school year, students can expect a more detailed code of conduct policy around cellphone usage while the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district consults stakeholders. (Stock photo)

Public schools throughout Nanaimo-Ladysmith will be implementing their own individualized cellphone policies while district-wide guidelines are being created.

The decision follows an order from the Ministry of Education and Childcare that as of July 1, all school districts are required to include “one or more statements about restricting the use of personal digital devices at school” within their school codes of conduct.

What that may look like is up to the board, but the statements must address restrictions on the use of digital devices at school, including during hours of instruction; use of devices for instructional purposes and digital literacy; and use of devices appropriate to a student’s age and developmental stage. The statments must also consider accessibility and accommodation needs, medical and health needs, and equity to support learning outcomes.

In staff’s report to the board at an education committee meeting May 8, district staff expressed there was “insufficient time to ensure a full review” and advised that individual schools would need to implement rules as they see fit for the time being. This would be an interim solution while the school district undergoes a more thorough consultation process with stakeholders starting this fall.

Mark Walsh, the district’s secretary-treasurer, told the News Bulletin that any changes shouldn’t have a significant impact on students since schools already have cellphone rules.

“Our teachers already have restrictions on the use of cellphones in schools based off the educational needs of their classes so there is already an awareness and concern about over[use] or inappropriate use of technology in our schools,” Walsh said. “Your elementary school is obviously going to have a different take on what that restriction might look like than your secondary school, as an example.”

He added that while the school district wants its overarching policy to be “relatively consistent” among schools, SD68 also wants “some flexibility” between institutions.

“Conversations amongst principals and their staff and their communities are really important to ensure the code of conduct is a living document that people value and apply,” he said.

READ MORE: Students say cellphone ban not needed in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district

Cellphone restrictions have been a contentious issue in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district which students have spoken up against. It was brought up most recently by students during the student voice circle’s presentation to the board last month.

Walsh said the specifics of the consultation process have yet to be determined by the district.

“We just want to make sure all of our schools have that minimum requirement by the date to ensure our legal compliance with the ministerial order,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. to limit cellphone use in schools, take action against extortion





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