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Cell Phone/Mobile Device Use in Schools Policy

Cell Phone/Mobile Device Use in Schools Policy

The TDSB recognizes the importance of fostering safe and inclusive learning environments for all students, and is developing a Cell Phone/Mobile Device Use in Schools Policy that will play a critical role in supporting student success, belonging, and well-being.

This work is in response to a resolution of the Board of Trustees (January 31, 2024) and also builds on direction from the Ministry of Education, as outlined in Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) 128: The Provincial Code of Conduct and School Board Codes of Conduct (issued April 28, 2024).

Development of a new Cell Phone/Mobile Device Use in Schools Policy includes a pre-consultation phase where staff will gather input from school and community partners. Staff will also consider legislative requirements, government policy directives, and the Board’s operational requirements. The proposed policy content will be supported and informed through a jurisdictional scan of comparable policies, procedures, and best practices in school boards across Canada and internationally.

Upon completion of the pre-consultation phase, staff will prepare a draft Policy and conduct regular consultations on the draft Policy for approximately 50 calendar days (see detailed timeline below).

 

Public Webcasts

To learn more, ask questions, and share input, please pre-register with the Zoom link below:

Tuesday, June 11 at 1 p.m.

Recording of session to be posted soon! 


Online Survey
Please consider completing an online survey to share feedback and provide input around the development of the new Cell Phone/Mobile Device Use in Schools Policy. The survey will remain open until June 30, 2024.

When responding to the survey questions, please think about broad use of mobile devices in the classroom during instructional time and during school hours (i.e. recess, lunch). All answers are anonymous and feedback received will be summarized for consideration in the new policy.

Before completing a survey, please review the information below. Highlights of the Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) 128: The Provincial Code of Conduct and School Boards Codes of Conduct issued April 28, 2024, include:

Mobile Devices and Social Media Platforms

School boards must develop a local policy setting out how they will enforce the restrictions on student use of personal mobile devices at school. The policy must comply with the board's obligations under the Education Act and other relevant provincial policy and legislation. The policy must, at minimum, align with the following direction provided in PPM 128 and include:

  • An approach to enforcement of the restrictions that includes clear expectations of responsibility for students, educators, principals and superintendents.

  • Best practices for educators on classroom management related to responsible use of technology.

  • A requirement for schools to have an annual notification sent to parents and students reminding them of the policy, its requirements and consequences for non-compliance.

  • A requirement that the expectations and responsibilities under the local policy, the best practices for educators and the annual notifications for parents be shared with all educators and principals.

The Provincial Code of Conduct applies to all individuals: on school property and in a virtual learning environment.

  • All members of the school community must:

    • not use personal mobile devices during instructional time except under the following circumstances:

      • for education purposes, as directed by an educator

      • for health and medical purposes

      • to support special education needs

  • All individuals cannot record, take or share non-consensual recordings or photos of members of the school community

  • At minimum the local policy must require that for grades 7 to 12 students' personal mobile devices are stored out of view and powered off or set to silent mode during instructional time, except when their use is explicitly permitted by the educator

    • If the educator sees a personal mobile device that is not stored out of view, they must require the device be handed in for the instructional period and the device must be placed, by the student, in a storage area in a location in the classroom designated by the educator.

  • For students in grade 6 and below, at minimum the local policy must require that students' personal mobile devices are stored out of view and powered off or set to silent mode throughout the full instructional day, except when their use is explicitly permitted by the educator

    • If an educator sees a personal mobile device that is not stored out of view, they must require the device be handed in for the instructional day and the device must be placed, by the student, in a storage area in a location designated by the principal.

  • The student is responsible for their personal mobile device, how they use it and the consequences of not following the school board's policy on personal mobile device use.

  • If the student does not hand in their personal mobile device when required, they must be sent to the Principal's office. Principals have discretion under PPM No. 145, Progressive discipline and promoting positive student behaviour, to consider a range of responses to address this behaviour including suspension

  • School boards are required to restrict access to all social media platforms on school networks and school devices. Social media platforms can only be used by students at school for educational purposes, directed by an educator.

  • School boards can determine exception protocols for the use of social media for pedagogical or work­ related purposes

  • This social media ban should not block SMS (text messages)

*Note: Personal Mobile Device(s) as defined by the Ministry of Education (PPM 128) is defined as any personal electronic device that can be used to communicate or to access the Internet, such as a cellphone, tablet, laptop or smartwatch.

Enforcement Relating to Electronic Cigarettes

There already exists in the Provincial and Board Code of Conducts and TDSB Policy PR697 enforcement mechanism to address the possession, use and provision of tobacco, nicotine products, recreational cannabis, alcohol and illegal drugs. The revised PPM 128 has now added electronic cigarettes to prohibited items. School Board codes of conduct must also remind the school community that the use of electronic cigarettes (vaping) at school and on school grounds is prohibited.

At minimum, in the case of these substances being found in possession of students, parents must be notified, and the student must surrender the item(s) to the educator or administrator.

Timeline

April 2024

  • Jurisdictional scan to inform draft policy begins
  • Policy work plan established and shared at Governance Policy Committee for approval
  • Ministry of Education releases a revised PPM128

May 2024

  • Policy work plan shared at Regular Board Meeting for approval
  • Pre-Consultation with staff, and school and community partners begins to gather input on PPM128 (including electronic cigarettes)
  • Pre-Consultation continues for 35 days

June-July 2024

  • Pre-Consultation continues with wider community
  • Student focus groups take place during summer school in secondary schools
  • Board Code of Conduct (PR585) is revised with new information and shared with all stakeholders
  • Jurisdictional scan completed

August 2024

  • Draft policy prepared and shared with internal TDSB committees for input
  • Draft policy and report shared at Governance Policy Committee for receipt

September 2024

  • Revised Board Code of Conduct (based on PPM128) in effect on September 1
  • Public Consultation on draft policy begins (60 days)

November 2024

  • Public consultations end
  • Draft policy shared with internal TDSB committees for approval

February 2025

  • Draft policy shared at Governance and Policy Committee for approval
  • Draft policy shared at Regular Board Meeting for approval