Portage Collegiate Institute (PCI) Principal Lawrence McKenzie says that the school has taken smartphones out of the hands of Grade 9 students in hopes of giving the students a more focused education space.

McKenzie tells PortageOnline that the school found that PCI's newest students need more focus on learning.

"There's been many times when the kids are more distracted by their phones. We want the kids to be focused on the learning and what's happening in the classroom."

McKenzie says that Grade 9 students are still allowed to use their phones during their lunch hour and on break at the school.

"Right now, we haven't had many issues with it. Kids are buying into it. They're seeing the importance of it, and we've had good support from our parents as well."

In Winnipeg, at the Franco-Manitobaine School Division, schools are banning cell phone use altogether for all grades.

Students have to put their phones in designated spots in the classroom where they won't be able to touch them. McKenzie says that this is not the case at PCI.

"We have some teachers where they've got cubby holes or a locker where the kids can put their phones away. There are some that do it voluntarily because they know if it's in their pocket and it buzzes, they're going to want to look at it. We do have some students that actually give their phones to their teachers because they're not going to have that invitation or that desire to to check what's happening on their phones. Different teachers do it different ways."

File Photo.

As for the rest of the grades at the school, it's the same old, according to the Principal.

"We just find that they're not as distracted by their phone. They're able to wait until the end of the class before they check their phone for messages, snaps or check their Instagram feed and stuff like that." 

McKenzie notes that parents have been very supportive of this policy. 


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