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Quebec students forbidden from using cellphones in classrooms after winter break

BY The Canadian Press, Dec 27, 2023 5:27 PM - REPORT AN ERROR

The directive, which aims to reduce distractions in class, enters into force Dec 31 and applies to public elementary and secondary schools. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Quebec's new rule banning cellphones in classrooms will be in effect when students return from the holiday break, making the province the second to implement such a measure, after Ontario.The directive, which aims to reduce distractions in class, enters into force Dec 31 and applies to public elementary and secondary schools, but it offers teachers flexibility to let students use phones for specific pedagogical purposes.

Many Quebec schools already had rules limiting cellphones in classes before Education Minister Bernard Drainville introduced the ban in August, but some child advocates say it's in the interest of children to make restrictions as tough as possible.Days ahead of Drainville's announcement, Étienne Bergeron, a high school teacher from Warwick, Que., launched a petition calling on the government to forbid cellphones anywhere on school property."I would have gone a lot further," Bergeron said in an interview, comparing his petition to what the province ultimately decided to do.

"What I want is all personal devices banned in schools, even in the corridors, the public spaces, the libraries, everywhere." If a teacher wants students to use cellphones for a pedagogical purpose, he said, the lesson "would have to be something well-defined." Bergeron says he's not anti-technology he manages his school's creative laboratory and teaches students about programming, music, and video game design, but he says his lessons use digital tools to expand the mind, not to surf aimlessly online."The reality is when young people are on the phone, they are on TikTok, they're playing games," Bergeron said. "I'm convinced it's not in the mission of Quebec schools to leave our young people in front of these devices that literally make them anti-social.

"Quebec’s Education Department says that by Dec. 31 all schools must have a policy restricting the use of cellphones in classrooms. It will be up to individual school boards to come up with penalties for students who don't follow the rules.

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