Ontario to ban use of cellphones in school classrooms starting 2024-25 academic year

The Ontario government announced new policies limiting cell phone use and banning vaping in schools starting in the 2024-25 academic year. Education Minister Stephen Lecce, along with Parliamentary Assistants Billy Pang and Natalie Pierre, outlined the measures, which include keeping phones silent and out of sight for students in kindergarten to Grade 6, and restricting cell phone use during class time for students in Grades 7 to 12 unless directed otherwise by educators.

Additionally, social media websites will be removed from school networks, and report cards will include comments on students’ distraction levels. The government plans to provide mandatory training for teachers and support for students and parents. Lecce emphasized the need to address distractions and restore focus, safety, and common sense in schools.

The province will also enforce a vaping ban in schools, requiring students to surrender vapes and notifying parents or guardians. $30 million from the 2024 budget will be allocated for vape detectors and security upgrades in schools. Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, highlighted the health risks associated with vaping and the need to protect students.

Furthermore, the government will invest $17.5 million in additional supports for student mental health and parent engagement. This includes funding for student addiction prevention, resources for discussing vaping and excessive cell phone usage, and local prevention campaigns.

Both the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) have been considering their own cell phone policies. The TDSB reversed its cell phone ban in 2011 due to equity concerns but is now revisiting the issue to address problematic usage. Additionally, several school boards, including TDSB and TCDSB, have filed a lawsuit against social media giants for disrupting student learning and contributing to mental health challenges.

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