Students will offer guidance as Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools follows a provincial directive and formulates a cellphone policy.
In late January, B.C. Premier David Eby directed school districts to work with the provincial government to develop mobile phone-restrictions, which would commence in September. In response, Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district’s education committee is recommending the student voice circle committee be consulted prior to creating a cellphone policy.
School officials previously told the News Bulletin an outright cellphone ban was not something they were interested in pursuing, and Laura Tait, acting superintendent, reiterated this at the education committee meeting Feb. 7. She said the use of cellphones for educational purposes will be part of the discussion.
“Districts are going to be required to create, or be accountable around either a policy, an administrative procedure or a direction of some kind,” said Tait. “We’re going to wait a little bit to hear more before we launch into policy … or an overarching direction.”
She said more specific guidance from the B.C. Ministry of Education is anticipated to come following spring break.
The purpose of the province’s direction on cellphones in classrooms is to create consistency across the province, while allowing districts to make decisions at the local level, Tait said, adding that some limitations on cellphones are already occurring at secondary schools.
Trustee Chantelle Morvay spoke in favour of the motion to consult with the student voice committee, stating students would be the ones most affected by the policy.
“We know staff will be impacted by this as well and so I think the great first step is hearing from the students, especially those who are most likely to use this technology in the classroom,” said Morvay. “I’m very, very curious to hear what they have to say.”
The recommendation passed unanimously.
The cellphone policy is one of three initiatives announced by the premier with an eye to increasing student safety. Services to remove explicit images from the internet and pursue damages from online predators took effect Jan. 29, and in the spring, the government is expected to propose laws aimed at holding social media companies accountable for harm they cause.