Phone caddies like this one have been placed in all classrooms at Marshall High. Students are expected to check cell phones in the caddies at the beginning of each hour and are not allowed to use them during class time.
Cell phones have been a problem in the education system for the last decade but recently have become a bigger issue.
“The more we have done distant learning, the more kids have felt attached to their phones,” said Principal Christy Jones.
Interruptions during class time occur for various reasons, but the main source was cell phones.
“Students have phones out and headphones in during class instead of being focused,” said Jones.
Bullying also became a bigger issue. Kids were being taken out of class because of something inappropriate that had been posted. Since cell phones have become such a problem, some changes had to be made to get students to focus on academics, according to Jones.
“After conversing with admin and board of education members, we thought this was the best way where students could still have their phones but put them away during academics to focus on class,” said Jones.
The expectation is that when students walk into their classrooms they place their phones into a phone caddy until the class is finished. However, students are allowed to have them at lunch and during passing periods.
Students have strong opinions on this policy being enforced. Junior Breawna Gorham feels the school has become stricter.
“This policy makes me feel controlled because it’s my phone, not yours,” said Gorham.
A lot of students have separation issues with their phone or feel the need to have it beside them for comfort, so enforcing this policy of putting cell phones in caddies could potentially create anxiety for them.
Although some students aren’t happy about this decision, this policy will not be going away anytime in the near future. Students at MHS eventually will have to adapt to the new rules and understand where the faculty members are coming from.
“If I were a staff member, I would have to follow the rules, so I would have to be okay with it,” said Gorham.
MHS is not the only school initiating new cell phone policies. Other schools around the Marshall area also have started becoming stricter on cell phone usage during class time.
“At least three schools I know of are not allowed to have them at all, including headphones, watches, etc,” said Jones.
However, some students absolutely have to have their phones for medical needs. For example, if someone has diabetes, that student may use a phone to check blood sugar levels. Exceptions are being made for those with a medical need.
“The expectation is that their phone is laid on their desk, face down, where a staff member can see it and not in their hand. They can do what they need to do, but they should not have it in their hand,” said Jones.
All MHS staff are required to follow this policy so it doesn’t leave confusion for students.
“If staff members don’t follow protocol, it falls under insubordination, and we have a conversation saying this is a policy and we are expected to follow it,” said Jones.
So far, staff members have not had an issue with following this policy, and some are relieved because they can teach a class knowing everyone is engaged.
“I don’t feel like I have to be looking around as much to see if people are trying to use their phone sneakily,” said Cynthia Stevinson, an English teacher,
Students know if they are caught using their phone, they go straight to the office.
Overall, enforcing the policy of putting phones away during class time is something that will be continued. Some schools are even looking into banning cell phones, watches and earbuds from school indefinitely to ensure kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing during academic time.