A new cell phone policy at Dunsmuir Middle School had students upset on Thursday, as the school reviews the policy over the next few days in preparation for its March implementation.
In an e-mail sent to parents on Feb. 12, cell phones in schools are cited as “a growing issue for youths and adults alike.”
The e-mail states that studies have revealed children, on average, get a smart phone around the age of 10 and studies show cell phones in schools can have a negative impact on academic performance, concentration, social and emotional well-being and self-regulation.
School staff have been engaged in conversations around a new cell phone and digital policy, according to the e-mail. The policy states that “students may use personal mobile devices during instructional time for educational purposes as directed by the teacher, for health or medical purposes or as assistive technology for the purpose of inclusive education,” the e-mail says.
Personal mobile devices, including laptops and chrome books, must be turned off and remain in student lockers at all other times including recess and lunch. The policy also applies to ear buds and headphones.
For emergency calls, students can use the phone in the office and if a parent needs to reach a student urgently, they can phone the office as well, according to the e-mail.
Students not following the rules would have their phone labelled and stored in the office until a parent can pick it up.
“I understand that this is a lot of information but it is important that families are aware of this shift so they can best support their child and the school in moving forward,” the e-mail says.
On Thursday, videos posted on Instagram showed Dunsmuir students using expletives and protesting the new policy, calling it a “phone ban.” Students could be seen holding up signs that said “stop the phone ban.”
According to the e-mail, staff are reviewing the policy over the next few days “to assist students in adjusting” to it. There will be grade group meetings to review it. On March 2, the school-wide policy is to come into effect and students will be given warnings and reminders to store their phones in their lockers.
The full policy comes into effect March 30.
The Sooke School District was not available for comment on Friday.