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Consultations ongoing on whether cellphones will be permitted in Manitoba classrooms

Smartphones are a piece of technology many people have on their person at nearly all times, but in a classroom setting, they’re becoming more and more of a nuisance.

The Ontario government announced over the weekend its plan to introduce limits on cellphones in school, as a way to reduce distractions and improve students’ overall health.

Manitoba Minister of Education and Child Development Nello Altomare has been conducting consultations since October 2023 to see if the province should make a similar move.

Altomare was fairly blunt with his thoughts on the matter.

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“I’ve yet to be convinced that in any K-8 classroom, that any smart device really belongs in it,” he said.

While younger students could potentially see a drastic change in policy, Altomare explains conversations and consultations are still happening when it comes to students in grades 9-12.

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“In that particular spot, we need to do a little bit more,” Altomare says. “I’m also hearing that many teachers already have put bans in place on their own. We want to support educators in doing their primary role, which is working with our kids and ensuring they’re getting the lessons that they need, and also the instruction that they need to be successful in life.”

How do students feel about these potential changes? Those who spoke with Global News, like Yana Voitsekhivska, admit they cause distractions.

“If we’re done with our work, we could probably use cellphones without any limitations,” Voitsekhivska says. “But during actual lectures, we should probably not use them.”

Grade 11 student Cray Scott tends to agree.

“I think it’s best to stay away from it, you know? Use it at home, ’cause that’s when you’re kinda free. When you have somewhere to be, whether it’s work or school, you’re less distracted and you’re more put into reality.”

With consultations still ongoing, it’s unclear when the provincial government could introduce changes.

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