Turtle Mountain School Division is in the process of developing a policy of procedures centered around the use of electronic devices in the classroom, including cell phones.

 Superintendent, Grant Wiesner, says they're looking at different options for students and their cell phones, from completely restricting them to incorporating a more phased approach where restrictions are determined by grade level.  Different classroom strategies are already being used in some of the classrooms, where students deposit their phones into a pocket type holder, or a bucket at a specific location in the classroom.

Wiener says the issue of how to manage device use in schools has been a topic of discussion for a while. 

"Years ago, we did have a policy in place, and we changed it to allow [devices], and it's then been classroom management based, but then as we read about the research taking place with devices in classes, and the distractions this can cause and the improvement on focus students can have if those devices aren't there, we've revisited this."

"In the past we didn't have laptops or chrome books available for students and now we do, so students don't really need an additional device," he continues. "Things like cyber bullying and social issues, just that social media use and its impact in the classroom, on learning, on student mental health and well-being. We've been looking at student engagement and student participation and if we limit use what that might look like compared to what its looking like right now."

Ensuring academic integrity is also important as it's all too easy to google a subject or an answer without giving a topic sincere thought before answering or completing assignments.

Currently staff, parents and guardians of the Turtle Mountain School Division families are sharing their thoughts in a formal survey, with Grades 5-12 students being surveyed next week.

"Just to get their thoughts on the students' use, but also on what our policy and procedures should say," explains Wiesner.  "And yes, we're getting a whole smattering of opinions, but I think almost 100% of surveys so far are indicating student mental health and well-being and the things we can do to mitigate the use of devices in classrooms."

Please listen to more with Grant Wiesner below!

Most importantly, Wiesner says the impact these devices and social media are having on the mental health and wellness of their students is the primary concern.

'Cyberbullying is the use of computers, smartphones or other connected devices to embarrass, hurt, mock, threaten or be mean to someone online.

It is a serious problem that affects young people every day. Three out of ten Canadian youth say they have been cyberbullied before. Cyberbullying hurts, and can have a negative impact on the self-esteem, relationships, and future lives of those involved.

There are things you can do to prevent and deal with cyberbullying if it happens to you or to someone you care about.'

Canada Public Safety website

To learn more about cyberbullying, what it is, how to protect yourself and loved ones, how to report is visit the Canada Public Safety website HERE!

For Turtle Mountain School Division the new policy and procedures are expected to be in place by September 2024.