Sherwood Park, AB. — Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) Board of Trustees has approved a new policy regarding cellphones. Policy 24, Personal Communication Devices, passed at a regular Board Meeting on May 22, 2019, outlines how students and staff use cellphones and personal devices within EIPS schools. The goal: To ensure all students use technology responsibly and develop skills in digital citizenship.

The creation of the policy is based on the prevalent use of cellphones and other personal communication devices by students of all ages and the challenges it presents for teachers. Recent research into digital-technology use among children and teens also raises concerns over the impact cellphone use has on mental and physical health, social well-being and readiness to learn.

Earlier this year, EIPS senior administration, at the request of the Board, undertook a comprehensive review of the Division’s existing procedures and practices used to oversee the use of student-owned technology in the classroom. Knowing the issue impacts a variety of key stakeholders, administration launched an extensive public consultation strategy involving students in grades 4 to 12, teachers, school administrators and EIPS families.

“Before making any decisions, it was critical the Board had a clear understanding of what constitutes appropriate use of cellphones and other personal devices in school,” says Trina Boymook, the Board Chair of EIPS. “When we reached out to the school community, the response was incredible. Approximately 6,600 students, 3,500 family members and 1,200 school‐based staff completed a survey about personal-device use. The feedback provided us with a clear picture of the current situation and how to best manage the use of these devices. The vast majority of respondents were in agreement—age-appropriate limits are important in fostering positive learning environments, and maintaining overall health and well-being.”

Policy highlights:

  • Students in kindergarten to Grade 6: No access to cellphones or personal devices during the school day, including during breaks and the lunch hour—the only exception, students with a diagnosed medical condition or an identified inclusive educational need. Additionally, each school will develop a personal communication device plan and detail where devices are stored during the school day.

  • Students in grades 7 to 9: No access to cellphones or personal devices during class time—the only exceptions, students with a diagnosed medical condition or an identified inclusive educational need, and when given permission by a teacher for a specific educational task or purpose. Students can access their device during identified break periods, including between classes and the lunch hour. Additionally, each school will develop a personal communication device plan and detail where devices are stored during the school day.

  • Students in grades 10 to 12: No access to cellphones or personal devices during class time—the only exceptions, students with a diagnosed medical condition or an identified inclusive educational need, and when given permission by a teacher for a specific educational task or purpose. Students can access their device during spare periods and identified breaks, including between classes and the lunch hour. Additionally, each school will develop a personal communication device plan and detail where devices are stored during the school day.

“The purpose of a detailed policy setting guidelines for schools isn’t to limit student freedom,” says Boymook. “It’s to ensure learning takes place in an environment with fewer distractions. When students can focus on what’s taking place in the classroom and can interact directly with the teacher and other students, they’re in a better position to grow and succeed.”

Policy 24, Personal Communication Devices takes effect Sept. 1, 2019. Once in effect, the Division will update its Board Policies and Administration Procedures for use by all Division schools.

 

EIPS is one of Alberta’s largest school divisions, serving approximately 17,150 students in 43 schools. We are proud to be an integral part of our communities, including Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Strathcona and Lamont counties, and the western portion of the County of Minburn.

 

RELATED INFORMATION:
Policy 24, Personal Communication Devices

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For more information contact:
Laura McNabb, Director, Communication Services, EIPS 780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902