Nov 20
Digital Devices

Dear Families of A. E. Cross Students,

I would like to ask for your assistance and support as a whole school community to address something my staff and I feel is impacting the school experience of our adolescent learners.

Please know this is not something isolated to the A. E. Cross school community. It is something that we, as Calgary Board of Education principals, discuss daily.  It is also an issue that my principal colleagues in schools around the world are facing. In CBE we have developed "digital citizen"  guidelines that we make sure students and parents aware of.  But, it should come as no surprise that often adolescent use of mobile devices may not always fall into what we would all deem good digital citizenship.

While at school, my staff and I do our utmost to monitor students’ use of technology (be it student-owned or school-owned devices) to ensure students are using the technology effectively and appropriately.  This is the reason I have asked for students to keep their cell phones in their lockers during class time, unless otherwise directed by their teachers. However, we also realize that sometimes students bring their devices with them to class when they should not or they engage in online behaviour at school that is inappropriate. We really need your support in reminding your children of our school policy related to cell phone use--and the subsequent consequences, if they make poor choices with regards to the acceptable use of cell phones or other digital devices. 

Students’ use of digital devices outside of school time is very complicated matter.  While what happens outside of the designated school day is in most cases not an area of school jurisdiction, under Alberta School Act Legislation, it becomes the responsibility of the school principal to intervene when outside of school actions by students impact the proceedings of the school.  Constable Boyko, my School Resource Officer, has asked me to remind all families that although students may believe their cell phones are owned by the student, cell phone contracts cannot be issued to anyone under the age of 18. If CPS or other law enforcement agencies become involved and deem it necessary to “ticket” or lay charges, those offences will be levied against parents/guardians. Students need to be very aware that their inappropriate use of digital devices place their families in very difficult circumstances.

The intent of this message to you as parents is perhaps a "call to action"--a return to the belief that it does take a "watchful and caring village" to raise our children well in our ever-changing digital society. While we certainly celebrate the many wonderful things our students demonstrate each and every day, we also remind them of the values of ethical citizenship as outlined in Alberta Education’s "Ministerial Order on Student Learning."  There is truly NO anonymity while using CBE or other networks.  Actions such making hurtful or threatening comments via digital messaging or through social media or sending anonymous letters filled with inaccurate information and venomous language are not acceptable conduct in our Canadian civil society. Even though it may seem second nature to us as adults (and we would never consider conducting ourselves in such ways) the images and messages our students are exposed to every day through various forms of media present them with other ideas.

Our students often laugh at me when I say to them that there were no cell phones when I was in junior high school--and if I had something to say to someone, it had to be done face-to-face.  I tell them that talking directly with someone often improves the conversation, not being able to hide behind the "perceived anonymity" of the methods of communication they have access to today. The filter I remind our students of is, “Would you say this directly to someone’s face?” Most of the time their answer would be "No," and, therefore they realize it is not behaviour befitting of the respectful, kind and caring students I know them to be.

At A. E. Cross, my staff and I are very appreciative of your ongoing support as we all work to support students in navigating our complex world, complicated even further by social media and all too easy to access digital devices. 

Sincerely,

 Dr. Brandy Yee​

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