Schools say teens can’t have phones in school, get creative to keep cellphones locked

Students walk through the halls of Miamisburg Middle School. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Students walk through the halls of Miamisburg Middle School. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Some school districts are cracking down on the use of cellphones in the new school year.

Dayton Public Schools will require high school students to put their phones, headphones and watches in a pouch that locks down the phone. The student can keep their devices with them if they are in the pouch. At the end of the school day, kids can release their phones, said DPS superintendent Elizabeth Lolli.

Lolli said the company is called Yondr and middle school students have already been using this technology for several years with no issues. DPS students have been given Chromebooks to complete online work, according to the district’s website.

“Phones cause many learning distractions and other types of distractions as we all see regularly in the news,” she said.

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Ohio allows any local board of education to decide if they want to allow students to have their cellphones in class, and the law was signed in 2019. California also passed a similar law in 2019.

Having cellphones ringing in class or having a student watching YouTube when the teacher is teaching can be detrimental for the classroom environment, administrators say.

But increasingly, districts are using online learning. Teachers post assignments to Google Classroom, for example, or use an app like Canvas for students to get classroom materials or turn in assignments.

While most districts list a cellphone policy in their handbooks, the enforcement of those policies varies from school to school, and teacher to teacher.

Centerville district spokeswoman Sarah Swan said most Centerville school buildings require students to keep such devices off and in backpacks and lockers. At Centerville High School, some teachers use cellphones for teaching, and cellphones are allowed in those circumstances, she said.

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Mad River Local requires students who are younger than ninth grade to leave their phones in their lockers. Middle school students must have their phones turned off during the school day, according to the district’s policy.

In high school, students can use their phones in some classrooms, with teacher permission, according to the district.

At Troy schools, the use of any electronic device is at the discretion of the building principal and the classroom teacher, according to the school district. On buses, using cellphones is at the discretion of the driver.

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Springboro City Schools also do not allow students to use phones in their classrooms, according to the Springboro online handbook. Students who violate the rule can be sent to the principal’s office and be disciplined, the handbook said. Preschool students up until fifth grade students shouldn’t be bringing phones to school at all.

The Springboro handbook says the best way to get ahold of a student during the school day is by calling the main office.

“While we do not directly track instances related to cellphone infractions as a district, each instance is handled on a case-by-case basis with contact to the student’s parent/guardian, if necessary,” said Scott Marshall, spokesman for Springboro schools.

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