• John Jantak

Westwood Senior High will implement cell phone ban during classes


PHOTO COURTESY UNSPLASH

A cell phone ban will be implemented during class time for students at Westwood Senior High School at the start of the new school year.

“We’ve been having a discussion for the past couple of years at the school and among our parent bodies,” Nick Hayter, principal of Westwood Junior High School told The Journal during a telephone interview on August 21. “We’ve found in the past couple of years it’s been more of a distraction that takes away from the teaching and the learning.”

Focus on school work

“We want the kids to be a bit more focused on their school work and class work. They’ve been having a tough time especially at the junior and senior levels focusing on what the instruction is,” said Hayter whose junior school already had a similar ban in place.

The schools did a survey at the junior campus asking students what the primary use of their cell phones was for and discovered it was mostly not related to school work. “About 10 per cent of the students said they used it for school work. The others said it was mainly for watching videos or listening to music,” said Hayter.

“They actually gave us feedback telling us they weren’t using their cell phones productively for work in the classroom. We just find that with social media and communication it was distracting them from their work,” he added.

Distraction for the class

Hayter said not every student uses their cell phone during class, but the ones that do are causing a distraction for the rest of the students.

“It can be a disturbance to the class if a teacher has to address a situation where a cell phone is being misused. It can affect the flow and the progress of the class,” he said.

Reaction to the ban by parents has been positive, said Hayter.

“Many parents have spoken to us since we announced we were going in this direction with the ban in the classrooms and said they supported it. I think sometimes parents are also struggling to manage screen time with their children,” said Hayter.

Ban during class time only

The cell phone ban will be enforced exclusively during class time. “Students will be able to use their devices outside of class in specific zones and areas at certain times of the day like at recess and lunchtime. We’ve set up areas where they can do that,” said Hayter.

“We have a digital citizenship program at the Lester B. Pearson School Board where we’re going to teach students to use technology responsibly. We also find there’s a socialization aspect as well where we want the kids to be interacting and communicating with each other rather than being absorbed by their devices regardless whether it’s a computer or a cell phone,” Hayter added.

The cell phone ban at Westwood Senior is specific to the high school. Other schools within the Lester B. Pearson School Board have their own individual policies.

Minimizing distractions

“We felt as a community this was the best step forward for us. This will make our students more engaged in their learning by minimizing the distractions that they may have with the temptation to check their phone. We can move forward positively,” said Hayter.

“It’s not necessarily a majority of the students that have this challenge, but when there’s one or two in a situation it can disrupt learning for others so we want to make sure it’s the same for everybody,” Hayter added.

Parents supportive

In response to a post about the ban on The Journal’s Facebook page, several people commented they’re in favour of the new initiative. “New policy this year at Westwood Senior. No cell phones in class! Yay!” wrote Jennifer Callaghan.

Sherrie Martin wrote, “100 per cent agree with this policy. They have plenty of time after school for cell phones.”

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