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Students allowed to carry mobile phones in class due to COVIDSafe app

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The debate over whether children should be allowed to carry mobile phones in classrooms has been reignited following concerns over coronavirus outbreaks in school environments.

The debate over whether children should be allowed to carry mobile phones in classrooms has been reignited following concerns over coronavirus outbreaks in school environments.

As schools continue to negotiate the coronavirus pandemic, some have made changes to the no-phone policy to allow students to use the COVIDSafe app.

In Victoria, the government is advising all public schools to keep the mobile phone policy in place, meaning students are still not permitted to carry their phone with them during the day.  

"Our mobile phone policy remains in place. Students at all government schools must switch off their mobile phones and securely store them during the school day," the Victorian Department of Education said in a statement to Nine.com.au.

"Phones can be turned on with the COVIDSafe app activated immediately before and after school.

"Schools are managed environments which include records of student, staff and visitor attendance, which can support contact tracing should it be required."

In Sydney, some school are making changes to the way they manage the issue of mobile phones in classrooms.

Waverley College, which was closed after a student tested positive to COVID-19 in May, have amended their policy on mobile phones, allowing students to carry them in their pockets during classes.

Prior to the pandemic, the school did not permit students to carry their phones during the day and all children were required to leave their devices in their bags or locker.

READ MORE: Third Victorian school closes after student tests positive for coronavirus

A Year 7 student at Waverly College has tested positive to coronavirus.

"Waverley College makes the most of the opportunities and advantages of technology, but places boundaries and limits on screen time. There must be times in all our lives that are screen-free, and in particular in a school learning environment we want to remove distractions," the school said in a statement.

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"However, we have amended our mobile phone policy, now allowing students to carry their phones on their person, so they can download the COVIDSafe App and assist with contact tracing.

"This comes with strict guidelines for students so mobile phone use does not impair social relationships, study, or encourage sedentary break times for students. We are also mindful of privacy."

But not all parents agree with the new approach.

Father-of-two from Sydney, Lea Davis, said he doesn't think allowing children to carry phones in class is necessary protecting schools against COVID-19.

Mr Davis said he understands why children may need to have their phones at school but they should be reserved for contacting parents or emergency situations.

"I don't think it's necessary for COVID because schools already have a system in place to know who is at school and contact them if there was a case," he told Nine.com.au.

Mr Davis said he didn't think children would be able to resist looking or playing on their mobiles while in class if allowed to carry their mobiles with them during the day.

"We live in a society where people have very short attention spans and they will be tempted to look at their phones," he said.

The NSW Department of Education has said it work closely with state health authorities to ensure necessary contact tracing methods and has not advised schools to allow students to carry mobile phones.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/nsw-schools-allowing-phones-in-classrooms-for-covidsafe-app-outbreak-concerns/958b8a74-19aa-4831-b86f-24efbb68416c

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