Letter: Ban cell phones in classrooms

Classrooms can be beleaguered with cell phone distractions

Ban cell phones in classrooms

Dear School District 79 board of trustees and staff:

I am reiterating my earlier request for a board policy banning student cell phones in all district classrooms.

I confirmed with education ministry staff that local school boards can institute such cell phone bans.

I appreciate some teachers, parents, pupils, staff, and trustees are concerned about cell phone misuse in our schools.

Classrooms can be beleaguered with cell phone distractions — including social media loaded with disturbing misinformation, or worse — stealing students’ attention from their vital studies.

Evidence now shows in-school cell phone distractions can include texting, emailing, test cheating, gaming, phone noise, plus lacklustre learning spanning reading, writing, social skills and critical thinking.

Those cogent concerns — confirmed by my calls — are shared by SD 79’s counterparts at three of Cowichan’s private schools: Brentwood College School; Shawnigan Lake School; and Queen Margaret’s School.

Cell phones are prohibited in their respective classrooms unless authorized by teachers for learning purposes only. Cell phones can be a tool, under some circumstances.

Otherwise, phones can be confiscated, usually until day’s end, at those private schools.

In short, cell phones — just as liquor, cigarettes, weapons and drugs — have no place in our precious classrooms, at any grade level.

I do emphasize exceptions can be made for pupils with medical or other critical needs.

However, those cases are surely in the minority.

Obviously, what students do regarding cell phones in their personal hours is their business, and that of their parents.

I requested such a cell phone ban some months ago after a constructive conversation with secretary-treasurer Jason Sandquist.

Sadly, I received neither a courtesy confirmation nor a reply.

Hopefully our board and staff seriously consider my request, and at least confirm my letter reached our wise board’s public agenda for debate.

Peter W. Rusland

North Cowichan