West Reacts to School Policy on Personal Electronics Reminder

Wests personal technology policy allows teachers to determine the strictness of their classrooms tech policies, but gives them the ability to confiscate items after a certain number of reminders.

West’s personal technology policy allows teachers to determine the strictness of their classroom’s tech policies, but gives them the ability to confiscate items after a certain number of reminders.

By Celina Saba, Staff Writer

Students received a personal electronics policy reminder on Dec. 1 from Assistant Principal of Operations Steve Parnther. According to Parnther, the reminder was sent because, “as cell phone and earbud usage in classrooms has noticeably increased since the start of the year, we want to remind students of respectful and responsible ways to use these devices. Phones and earbuds can be distracting during day-to-day school activities, as well as unsafe in emergency situations,” Parnther said. 

In the email, students will find a summary of the Acceptable conduct regarding Cellular Phones and Disruptive Devices, a chapter from the D219 Student handbook, with a link to the website, which can also be reached by clicking here

For those students who haven’t seen the email reminder, by the end of today, unless absent, all students taking Physical Welfare will be reminded of the policy in class. 

According to Physical Welfare instructor Anne Heselton, “I was grateful for the administration actually addressing the problems that teachers were having in the classroom setting. Students have an issue with being on their phones more regularly, and I think it’s due to the pandemic. Having access to it all the time, students have forgotten what an educational setting should be like.” 

As mentioned in the policy reminder email, “Individual teachers’ classroom policies may be adapted to fit their classroom environments,” Parnther said. 

Therefore, upon receiving the reminder, teachers were open about their personal classroom policies regarding personal electronics. 

“I think phones in the classroom can be very disruptive and if a teacher has to constantly be saying in class and reminding students, again and again, that’s also disruptive so if there’s a strong policy in place and if everyone could respect that, we could get a lot more learning done. It also means there will be a better relationship between the teacher and the students because teachers won’t have to constantly be hounding this one tiny little point. There are a few classes where it’s a problem. Some people I think are really addicted and so they can’t take the instruction with a policy, they’re getting the same response in all their classes and this consistency makes it a lot easier for everyone,” World Language instructor Leslie Natzke said. 

On the other hand, specifically in a world language classroom environment, some teachers have found cellphones and other personal electronics beneficial to their students’ learning as long as they’re disciplined. 

“I use cellphones in my class and I like them, they’re great, they have great uses, I think cellphones have made my class better. Students can look up words instead of always asking the teacher. Students can look up data all kind of great activities but sometimes students aren’t disciplined in their use of cellphones and they can get distracted.” World Language instructor David Malatesta said. 

Some teachers also had concerns about how well students are learning class material with the constant distraction of their electronics. 

“I think in general we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of phones at improper times, and the issue is that to be able to learn a subject like math, you have to be able to invest time and energy and focus. With the number of headphones and videos playing in class, kids can’t learn and reach their expected level,” math instructor James Krzeminski said. “It’s our responsibility as educators to provide that environment despite the students’ desires otherwise.”

Upon receiving the policy reminder, however, some students questioned why the policy was being enforced. 

“I think that it’s weird that we have only ‘started’ to enforce the phone rules halfway through the school year. This rule has always been there, but it’s a matter of what the teacher prefers. I believe it would be best if we kept it that way, as whatever your teacher prefers for your phone, then just respect that. It’s not that hard,” junior Caitrona Hermer said. “Personally, I don’t think my classes will be affected by this rule much because my teachers seemed to not care about our phones. I see this as a way students will be more frustrated with our school.”

Other students have concerns about the consequences for those who fail to oblige by the policy. 

“I don’t think that it is fair for the school to take your phone from you. It’s your property,” senior Murphy-Maeve Holleran said. “I understand, however, why they are bringing up this policy because everyone is always on their phones.”

Some students also have concerns about how students will react moving forward with the policy reminder. 

“I have heard that this policy was meant to prevent fights, but I also think that this policy won’t do that, and instead, make students more willing to use their devices in a more hidden way,” senior Chris Lohan said. 

Other students, however, are surprised that others are finding this policy new. 

“It’s been what’s been since the beginning of the year. Students are allowed to use their phones in class when their teacher lets them know they can. In my AP Government class, since the beginning of the year, we are allowed to use our phones before and after we finish our work. However, in my math class, the second we enter class, our phones need to be put away,” sophomore Sabrina Nur said. “Students should listen to the rules they’ve received from the administration and their teachers and not go off-script. Otherwise, there are consequences.”