McNary Updates Cell Phone Policy
October 4, 2018 By:Alan Torres
By Lauren Murphy
In a day and age where social media apps are designed to keep you engaged and focused on them at all times school are faced with a problem in rising cell phone usage.
During the 2018-2019 school year McNary High School reinstated the existing cell phone policy. At the beginning of each class period teachers have been instructed to remind students to put their cell phones away and out of sight so they can focus better in class.
Mr. Erik Jespersen, principal at McNary High School, saw a significant drop in cell phone usage in the first three weeks of school.
The policy hasn’t changed at McNary, however it is being explained more clearly. Teachers are explaining the expectations to students every period, so students may hear the policy anywhere from four to eight times a day.
“Cell phones can be used for good,” Jespersen said. That is part of the reason that McNary decided not to become a no phone zone. Instead McNary is going for a hybrid approach.
“There are some appropriate times to pull your phone out in class,” Jespersen said.
McNary also wants to remind parents that when their child is in school it is not a good time to be contacting them. There are phones in every classroom and if there is an emergency the front desk will call the classroom and have that student excused.“Students need to be in the moment,” Jespersen said.
Jespersen also wants to give students a competitive advantage, “Education is just like society, we need to evolve.” Just like the graduate rate, the scholarship dollars, and the dropout rate, cell phone usage is one of the things that McNary is trying to tackle to help it’s students be college and career ready.
“It’s frankly an insubordination issue,” Mr. Brad Emmert, behavior specialist at McNary High School, said.
Grades drop and students are less engaged when phones are in the classroom. “We need to retrain parents to value school time,’ Emmert said, “we need to avoid distractions.” He also said that schools should, “instill prioritization,” and teach students to value school time as well.
The policy is still very broad and gives teachers enough freedom to structure their classrooms as they like.
“It’s the school’s job to prepare kids for the real world,” Emmert said. The reinstated policy should give a sense of consistency throughout the school which will make expectations clearer.
For years the policy was unenforced and varied from greatly classroom to classroom, getting everyone on board will be a multi year process.
“The Juniors and Seniors are harder to change,” Emmert said. Freshmen are coming from a school environment that doesn’t allow phones anywhere on campus so this policy is already more relaxed than what they’re used too.