TONASKET- Tonasket School District is considering a policy change that would prohibit students’ use of cell phones from the moment they walk on school property until the end of the day, including during all breaks.
Superintendent Kevin Young said by implementing the change in policy the district hopes to eliminate distractions, reduce bullying and improve the academic performance of students.
The policy change would affect students in possession of telecommunications devices, including, earbuds, headphones, smart watches, and cellular phones.
Tonasket is not alone in considering the policy change. Young said other districts have already adopted the change.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2020, cellphone bans were in place in 76 percent of U.S. schools. Some districts and schools have much broader restrictions on cell phones than others.
Young said he expects some pushback but has already received positive feedback regarding the proposed change, from educators and parents alike. He believes the impact on school culture, student behavior and the mental health of students, will prove to be positive.
Young agreed with research that shows a direct connection between cell phone distractions in class and lower student academic performance.
The policy would forbid students from using their devices during instructional hours. Students would not be able to send, share, view, or possess pictures, text messages, emails, or other material depicting sexually explicit conduct, while on school grounds, at school-sponsored events or on school buses or vehicles provided by the district.
The policy states, if a school official has reasonable suspicion, based on objective and articulable facts, that a student is using a telecommunications device in a manner that violates the law or school rules, the official may confiscate the device, which will only be returned to the student’s parent or legal guardian.
By bringing a cell phone or other electronic devices to school or school-sponsored events, the student and their parent/guardian consent to the search of the device when school officials have a reasonable suspicion, based on objective and articulable facts, that such a search will reveal a violation of the law or school rules. The scope of the search will be limited to the violation of which the student is accused. Content or images that violate state or federal laws will be referred to law enforcement.
Students who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.
The school board is set to hear the final reading of the policy and vote on the change during their next school board meeting, June 28.