Ontario’s education minister announced Thursday that the use of personal mobile devices such as cellphones in the classroom will be restricted starting Nov. 4, just in time for the upcoming school year. The province said the restriction applies to the use of cellphones during instructional time at school. Officials said exceptions will be made if cellphones are required for health or medical purposes, to support special education needs or for educational purposes allowed by the instructor. According to the provincial government, 97 per cent of the parents, students and teachers to whom they spoke during consultations in the fall of 2018 said cellphone use should be restricted in some way. “When in class, students should be focused on their studies, not their social media,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said. “That’s why we are restricting cellphones and other personal mobile devices in the classroom while making sure technology is available to help students achieve success in the digital economy and modern workforce.” Lecce said the reason for starting the classroom cellphone ban two months into the school year is to allow teachers time to embrace and implement the new platform. “Today’s generation of kids, increasingly for a variety of reasons, are not focused on the subject matter at hand,” Lecce said. “And that creates an impediment to learning. It creates an impediment to the retention of knowledge.” When it comes to enforcement, Lecce said cellphones are not to be out while a teacher or educator is at the front of a class teaching. “They are not to be out on the desk,” said Lecce. “If you have a backpack or a purse you can have it there, turned off.” “If it isn’t instructed by an educator, it isn’t going to be used.”

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