Cell phones in schools pique board member interest

Just prior to the forwarding of a motion for adjournment, the board members got engaged in an unplanned discussion regarding cell phone use in South East Cornerstone Public School Division classrooms during their Feb. 12 open business session.

Brandon Tichkowsky, a Weyburn city representative on the board, brought the topic forward asking for some clarification. He said he was interested in learning how a policy would work regarding their presence and/or use within a classroom.

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Chairwoman Audrey Trombley said, “I’ve heard two routes of opinion on this topic and I think any policy should stay within the schools who set it.”

“I’ve heard over use can sometimes even become a health issue,” said Tichkowsky, “you know, too much cell and screen time.”

Lynn Little, the division’s director of education, said the current policies for cell phone presence in classrooms are set by the individual schools and classroom teacher preference within. She said some don’t allow them at all while some do, with a variety of rules regarding the possibilities of the phones becoming a distraction. She indicated that they also can be used for educational purposes and can add to the learning environment for some courses.

 “I do know I don’t have the answers, I’m just asking the question,” said Tichkowsky.

“If it is becoming a health issue, then that maybe should be a concern for the health department,” Trombley said.

Other board members then advanced the discussion to include issues such as vaping by students and how that has become a health-related issue as well and procedures that would be followed if a sudden school lock down were ordered just prior to the start of school or during the dismissal of students near the end of the school day.

Earlier in the meeting, the board members rescinded a motion to conduct a special meeting later this month to discuss the matter of developing a renovation plan for the Estevan Comprehensive School and another plan for the construction of a central elementary school in that city. Trombley reported that a project plan in concert with the Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division for the schools had been formulated already and the two projects would be forwarded to the provincial government for potential approval in the 2021-22 provincial budget. A third project, the construction of a new Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in Carlyle was also approved for submission to senior government.

The board also approved recommendations to proceed with revisions to the board policy handbook.

The next open business session for the Cornerstone board will be March 25 at 1:00 p.m.


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