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Surrey Schools updates restrictions for cellphones and personal digital devices in schools

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Schools across our district will be updating their codes of conduct around cellphones and personal digital devices for the 2024-25 school year and beyond, in line with requirements from the Ministry of Education and Child Care.

The district has outlined updated language for all schools regarding the use of cellphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches and other personal digital devices that can be used to communicate or access the internet. The updates will also apply to the district’s procedure for Safe and Caring Schools.

The updated restrictions include:

  • not using personal digital devices to engage or participate in bullying, harassment, discrimination or defamation;
  • limiting in-class use to school-related activities that enhance student learning, as directed by the classroom teacher;
  • putting away personal digital devices during lunch and recess at elementary schools (with some exceptions);
  • avoiding use of personal digital devices during lockdown procedures and drills, so as not to interfere with emergency safety response; and
  • asking for consent before recording, with video or audio, any staff and students.

“The safe and responsible use of personal digital devices is expected by all Surrey School District students, employees, volunteers, parents, guardians and community members who are on school district property or interacting with students or staff,” reads the code.

In January, the provincial government announced three actions to protect children and young adults from online threats, which included restricting the use of cellphones in schools, launching services to remove images from the internet and pursue predators, and developing legislation to hold social media companies accountable for potential harms.

The district’s code of conduct acknowledges the benefits of personal digital devices for students who rely on them for translation services, medical supports, health needs, adaptations for Individual Education Plans and accessibility to resources. The code includes exceptions for these uses as well as other student-specific reasons. However, other uses are at the discretion of classroom teachers.

“The classroom teacher is responsible for the learning environment in the classroom, for guiding children to use personal digital devices appropriately, and for determining when personal digital devices should be used,” reads the code.

As always, the district is not responsible for lost, missing or damaged personal digital devices that students choose to bring to school.

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