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'It was a distraction': New policy at Manitoba school division keeping cell phones out of classrooms

As kids head back into the classroom, students in one Manitoba division will have to keep their cell phones out of sight.

The Franco-Manitobaine School Division has implemented a policy that calls for students not use their cell phones in class.

The division says the policy was created after years of discussion.

“We noticed over the years that (cell phones) were used as more of a social network tool,” he said.

“It was a distraction for students that were not really listening to what was going on in front.”

Last May, work began on the policy with a focus group of students. Then, the division sent a draft policy to school committees, administration, the union and staff for feedback.

The division’s superintendent Alain Laberge says most respondents were in favour of the move.

Under the new policy, Kindergarten to Grade 8 students cannot use phones in school, while Grade 9 to 12 students are allowed to use them during breaks and lunch hours.

Laberge says cell phones are no longer needed as a learning tool, as all classrooms are now equipped with computers and tablets.

There’s been some pushback from students, Laberge says.

“Some students are not happy with the policy, claiming that the cellular phone was really helpful for them,” he said.

“Some said, ‘what if there’s an emergency with home?’ But again, all our schools have full time, clerical administrators so if a parent needs to engage with his child, he or she can always phone the school.”

The new policy comes into effect in October.

In addition to keeping students engaged in the classroom, Laberge hopes the change will allow them to connect with their peers without technology.

“What we want is students socializing together, not with the help of a cell phone, but talking and engaging in conversation with others.” Top Stories

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