Quebec schools are now officially banning cell phones in class. However, the ministerial directive did not change much, as rules already applied in most facilities, say those involved in the school network.
Education Minister Bernard Drainville announced at the start of the school year that cell phones would be banned in class from December 31 to reduce distractions during lessons.
The policy, aimed at public elementary and secondary schools, allows teachers who wish to authorize cell phone use for educational purposes.
Quebec is the second Canadian province after Ontario to ban the use of cell phones in class.
Rules already apply
Head teachers emphasize that the ministerial directive has not changed much in everyday life, as rules already apply in “the vast majority of schools”.
“It was already pretty well marked in the circle. Those who needed to make changes did so this fall,” explains Carl Ouellet, president of the Quebec Association of School Management Personnel.
Same story from Sylvain Bérubé, who teaches French at a high school in Quebec. The policy “only formalizes what already existed in the rules of life of most institutions,” he claims.
Minister Drainville has merely “reinvented a wheel that has been around for years,” adds the teacher, who sees it as just a cosmetic announcement “to leave a good impression.”
Delays due to strike?
However, in certain schools that had to make adjustments to comply with the ministerial directive, it is possible that the strike has delayed the adoption of new rules, indicates Kathleen Legault, president of the Montreal Association of School Directors.
School codes of conduct must be approved by governing boards, but their meetings were suspended during the Autonomous Education Federation's five-week strike, explains Ms. Legault.
Cell phone use does not appear to be a priority in this return to the classroom, Ms. Legault adds.
“The priority will be our students. We need to make sure they are doing well and assess where they are in their learning,” she said.
Ban on cell phones in class
- The ministerial regulation came into force on December 31, 2023.
- Personal electronic devices are now banned in public elementary and secondary school classrooms.
- However, teachers may allow their use for educational purposes if they consider it relevant.
- Each school is responsible for determining the sanctions if the rules are not followed.
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