MOHS Cracks Down On No Cell Phone Use Policy

By Cheryl Conway

Administrators and teachers at Mt. Olive High School are starting off the school year with stricter enforcement of the no cell phone usage policy.

Talk of the cell phone ban was a hot topic for students during the first week of school and by teachers presenting in their classrooms at Back to School Night on Wed., Sept. 7. Students are being required to place their cell phone in a “designated area” such as a calculator sleeve hanging in classrooms, storage pouch or other compartment provided by the teacher during that block.

While the district has had a no cell phone usage policy in place, some teachers may have been more lax allowing students to bring them into classrooms to use them when needed, and even charge them when batteries run low. Administrators at the high school are now cracking down on those rules and are fully enforcing the policy.

“This school year we intend to decrease cell phone dependency in
the classroom and during passing time,” says MOHS Principal Kevin Stansberry in his newsletter posted on the school district website. “We have come to accept that cell phone use in the classroom has produced some enhancements to the overall learning experience.”

Stansberry says, “it has become a distraction in the classroom,” with teachers bringing the issue to the forefront such as “situations
that comprised the academic integrity of our assessment practices,
distracted or disrupted the educational setting, and fueled student
conflict using social networking forums during the course of the
school day.”

Some situations mentioned at back to school night included students Face-timing other students during class; texting instead of concentrating on the lesson; taking pictures of exams and sharing with other students.

Although the Mt. Olive Board of Education has had a set protocol regarding no cell phone usage for years now, the high school still allowed students to bring cell phones and smart phones for classroom and activity use, says Stansberry. But now, “with more technology in the classrooms,” with 90 percent of the classrooms having Chromebooks, there is “no reason to use it in the instruction block,” says Stansberry.

“Accessibility to Chromebooks in the classroom has
reduced the necessity to use student cell phones,” he says. “There may be select
opportunities where your teacher may incorporate the use of your
cell phone for purposefully designed learning activities,” he adds.

“The policy has always been students can not use cell phones whenever in the classroom,” confirms Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larrie Reynolds. “The kids can carry the phone around for educational purposes.” Now with 200 computers at the high school, there is no need to use the cell phones as much, Reynolds agrees.

This practice will also apply to study hall
assignments, says Stansberry.

During study hall, “want to make sure they are using it for educational purposes; studying for the next class,” says Stansberry.

Some teachers are prohibiting students from taking cell phones when they leave the classroom to go to the bathroom. They can not even be taken out for charging the battery.

“We expect your cooperation at all times as it pertains to reducing the number of
negative encounters of cell phone usage during unauthorized
segments of the daily schedule,” says Stansberry in his newsletter. “If you feel that you are unwilling to relinquish your cell phone as part of this initiative, we suggest
that you keep your cell phone in your locker, in your car, or leave
your cell phone at home.”

Those who do not adhere to the no cell phone policy will be disciplined.

“Students who do not follow the parameters as established by your teachers will have their cell phone confiscated and we will follow the progressive disciple
guidelines clearly outlined in our student agendas,” says Stansberry.
First offense, cell phone will be confiscated by teacher and the guardian will be contacted. Second offense, phone will be confiscated and sent to the vice-principal along with a discipline referral and guardian contacted.

Students will be allowed to use their cell phones during lunch, notes Stansberry.

In today’s day and age, students and adults alike are dependent on their cell phones and most get a sense of missing something when the cell phone is not in their possession. Students use their cell phones to take pictures of notes on a PowerPoint screen or work on Google docs instead of a computer; most use their phones in order to communicate with parents about forgotten homework, afterschool plans or general questions that can not wait until lunch or dismissal.

Administrators are optimistic that reinforcing the no cell phone policy is a positive move.

“You are going to see an improved classroom setting,” says Stansberry. “It seems it was well received. We anticipate student and parent support. We have a great climate and culture; always willing to improve and progress. We have to remind students of dress code. You are dressing for an educational setting. We need to reinforce those messages.

“We are just trying to do the best we possibly can with ways to improve and make this the best place for learning,” he concludes.

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