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Nevis School Board asks 'Should students be allowed to use cell phones in class?'

Nevis School policy for the 2022-2023 school year will be determined this summer.

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Cell phone use by students at Nevis School will be evaluated during next summer's policy committee meeting. Currently some teachers allow their use as a learning tool in the classroom, while others do not to limit distractions during teaching time. (Adobe Stock)
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Regulating the use of cell phones by students at Nevis School will be discussed at this summer’s policy committee meeting. Issues with cell phone use in classrooms was brought up at Monday night’s school board meeting, with proponents on both sides of the issue.

Katrina Carrier, a teacher at Nevis School, said research shows they are a big distraction for students.

“Research shows that no matter whether the kid is using the cell phone or not it is a distraction,” she said. “I don’t have an issue with cell phones in my classroom because I don’t allow cell phones. Whether it’s in their pocket or sitting on the desk, it’s a distraction. I would love to see them gone. We have Chromebooks, so there is no reason they need to be on their cell phones in class.”

Others expressed the point of view that, like everything else in life, teaching students to regulate their cell phone use appropriately is a skill they will need when they join the workforce.

“As professionals out in the working world, we have cell phones,” board member Ed Becker said. “We need to learn phone etiquette. That could be taught in the classroom. We have an opportunity to train them to not be checking their phones all the time.”

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Carrier said research shows brains are not fully developed until age 25, so students may not be able to control the impulse to check their phone the way adults do. “I would argue that even if we teach them not to be on it, it’s still a distraction,” she said.

Teacher Olaf Netteberg said he spotted a student with a cell phone out while on scaffolding that day at the house building site. “I can’t police that,” he said, explaining that it happened in the 20 seconds he was helping other students at the work site.

Board member Justin Isaacson said he is against having cell phones in class.

“Are you going to take away their Apple watches too?” board member Karrin Lindow said.

“Put it all in a big basket and they can have it when class is done,” Isaacson said.

Student council representative Megan Lindow said certain teachers have very strict rules about cell phone use, while others do not.

“I think it should be driven by teachers, if they want to put phones in the phone jail with the support of the administration,” she said. “Especially in middle school they need that help. As they get into high school, students can have a little more trust. As a student, I see students respect the teacher’s rules.”

Board chair Andy Lindow said as it stands it is up to each staff member to reinforce their rules for cell phone use in their classroom.

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“A lot of them use them in class as part of their instructional time and others do not,” he said.

“It’s a big can of worms,” Becker said. “I think we should kick this over to the policy council and they can spend a full day on it this summer.”

Lindow said that whatever the policy is next year, there will have to be consequences and enforcement.

“We have people who are going to be entering the workforce,” he said. “If they haven’t learned how to control their phones but just had them taken away, now all of a sudden they have the phone on a job and are looking at it every five minutes, are we going to fire them or yell at them all the time or take it away?

“We already have a labor shortage everywhere. I think what Ed (Becker) said makes sense. The sooner students are able to learn to handle their phone on their own the better for them. And the classroom teacher has to enforce what’s going to happen.”

Karrin Lindow said the problem with teacher enforcement is that some teachers have a harder time getting that control, especially those with less experience, and it sends mixed messages to students on what is expected of them.

“If you have one teacher that’s really strict and another teacher that’s fighting to get control but doesn’t have the experience, you end up putting them in a position where if one teacher becomes evil because she enforces it and this is the nice teacher because she doesn’t enforce it,” she said. “There’s a lot of attitude with kids these days. If they can get away with it, they will. You’re putting teachers in a position they should not be in.”

Superintendent Gregg Parks said this is a great opportunity to do more research and look into issues more before meeting with the policy council in the summer.

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“I’m looking around the room and only see two of us without our cell phones in front of us,” he said. “Right in the middle of the meeting, my watch went off. I looked at it because usually it’s something about (Zoom) meeting management going on.

“It’s a big part of our lives today. Used correctly, these are a great device to have and part of who we are as a culture and a driving force behind what’s going on in the world today. A huge part of what we do is educate people. Educating students on how and when to use their phones is important.”

Related Topics: EDUCATIONPOLICY
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