Nova Scotia Provincial Directive on Personal Cell Phone Use in Schools

The Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) is dedicated to creating school environments where children and youth can thrive.

We owe it to our students to do what we can to remove distractions and enable them to be fully present and engaged in the classroom.

Research and experience tell us that there are benefits to limiting access to cell phones and personal mobile devices in schools, including:

Enhances Learning: Minimizing distractions from cell phones improves focus and productivity during learning experiences. Engagement and academic performance improve.

Improves Social Interactions: Limited access to cell phones can reduce incidents of bullying and enhance social interactions among students.

Promotes Well-Being: Reducing screen time helps students engage more in physical activities and face-to-face interactions, which are crucial for healthy development.

Who was consulted?

Beginning in February 2024, through to May, School Advisory Councils, representatives from the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia (PSAANS), NSTU Committee Members, Provincial Ministerial Advisory Groups, representative voices of students, teachers, support staff, school administrators, and other tables offering community first voice were consulted regarding possible direction regarding personal cell phones and mobile devices in schools.

We understand you may still have questions. Here are some Q & A's to help:

Q & A for Students/Parents/Guardians

This is mostly about cell phone use but it will also include other personal mobile devices that can be used to perform similar functions (portable gaming consoles, MP3 players and iPods,etc).

Students will be expected to follow the expectations of their school regarding when and where cell phones and other personal mobile devices may be used.

Teachers are responsible for maintaining a classroom environment consistent with expectations and will ask students to comply. That may include asking the student to leave it with their teacher in a secure location.

If a student is not willing to follow direction, the Principal or Vice Principal does have the authority to ask them to surrender their phone until a parent or guardian is contacted.

School Administration are mindful of the fact that urgent information is best shared in a private and supportive environment. The Principal will ensure that school contact numbers are shared and that urgent messages are passed along in a timely and private manner.
Exceptions may be made to address students’ individual needs (medical/ability) when determined in consultation with Student Planning Team, that includes parents/caregivers.
Exceptions may be made to address students’ individual needs (medical/ability) when determined in consultation with Student Planning Team, that includes parents/caregivers.
Bus transportation is an extension of the school day and subject to the Provincial Code of Conduct Policy. Personal use of mobile devices while waiting for, or riding the bus needs to align with the expectations. Students may not record or take pictures while on the bus.
Free periods and lunch are part of the school day. Schools will determine if students in Grades 7-12 are permitted to use during breaks, free periods and lunch. Those expectations will be communicated to the school community.
Schools will work with parents to reinforce the expectation that cell phones remain off and stored during the instructional day. Individual policy violations will be treated as minor infractions. Schools where similar expectations have already been put in place tell us from experience that suspensions were not necessary to make this change to the school climate.

Please call the main office. Schools will re-evaluate their communication routines to ensure that important messages are passed along in a timely manner.

Teachers will work with their school to identify alternate technologies whenever possible. In exceptional circumstances, the teacher may direct students to use a phone if it is part of a planned lesson and no other option is available.
This Provincial Directive has been established to ensure that all schools are consistent in addressing unnecessary distractions to learning and pro-social interactions in schools. This Directive applies to all public schools in Nova Scotia.
The school-wide expectations will be communicated by the school so that students know what is expected.
Confidential phone calls can be made from the admin office or School Counsellor office. Allowing your student to text during the day is a distraction to their learning and the learning of others.