Student cell phone use for 2018-19

August 23, 2018


For as long as cell phones have been on the market, schools have struggled to find ways to compete for students’ attention. With the advent of the smartphone over ten years ago, this struggle intensified as students suddenly had instant access to friends and peers through text messaging and social media, as well as inappropriate content via the internet. While most schools have done their best to creatively embrace the use of technology in the classroom, studies have found that the distraction that cell phones pose can exacerbate the achievement gap that exists between high achieving and struggling students, and can even be addictive in nature as applications, texting features, and social media sites that are commonly used on these devices trigger releases of the chemical dopamine to the brain. Some scientists argue that the addiction that can accompany cell phone use can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression over time.

Last year both middle schools in our district moved toward eliminating student cell phone use during the school day. While we at SAHS left the door open to appropriate student use during the school day, we also revised our practice in an attempt to be clearer with students and families about appropriate use and somewhat more restrictive. After a year of reflection and continued study by our staff, and in light of the evidence that we now have, we feel a need to revise our practice and approach toward cell phone use again.

Beginning this fall, all student cell phones must be turned off during class hours including Flex Time and not be present on a student’s person in the classroom during class hours or Flex Time. Any cell phones present at SAHS during class hours or Flex Time must be either:

● in the student’s assigned locker

● secured with a staff member in a predetermined location within the classroom

● in a backpack or bag separate from the student’s person

Staff members may give permission for personal technology use in the classroom for academic purposes depending upon the learning activity and situation. Students may still use their cell phones appropriately during passing time, their designated lunch period, and before/after school.

Students who use cell phones inappropriately during class hours will have their phone confiscated and will be required to have a parent/guardian pick up their phone from their respective student center during school operating hours. While we recognize that this can represent a large inconvenience for parents/guardians, we feel this is an important step in ensuring appropriate use during the school day, and we hope that parents and guardians engage in proactive conversation with their students about appropriate use and how these potential consequences for inappropriate use might impact them.

We will continue to work with students and parents throughout the year to engage them in the development of policy and practice that is reasonable and responsive to the best student outcomes. It is our hope that the revisions outlined here have a positive impact on everything from student achievement to mental health to discipline, and we are looking forward to working with your students in a few short days.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Robert C. Bach, Principal