GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The nearly 10,000 students at Forest Hills Public Schools spent the first day of the school year cellphone-free.
It is a new policy this year applauded by school officials and a 60-parent committee. School officials say the policy is based on information from psychologists who say the overuse of cellphones leads to anxiety and isolation.
The ban calls for students to keep their phones out of site, preferably in lockers, for the entire school day, including during lunch and in restrooms or libraries. If a student is seen with a phone, it gets confiscated. It can be picked up from the office at the end of the day and the incident goes on the dreaded permanent record. If it happens a second time, a parent must pick up the phone and then negotiate about punishments for subsequent violations.
“Last year and in the past years — I’m a junior — we always would use our phones to take pictures of the notes the teacher would provide on the screen and a lot of teachers have talked about that and how it’s going to be hard,” Forest Hills Northern High School junior Marsha Benson said Monday.
Administrators say this is being done for the students’ own psychological, social and academic good, but all the students we talked to at the end of the day today said while they see a need to control use, this policy takes things too far.
“I think the original idea of it was really good, but I think the idea of them not letting us have it at lunch and in between classes really has no effect on it,” sophomore Kyra Witting said. “They will take it if they just see it in your pocket, they’ll take it and I think that’s a little too strict.”
“I think you can use phones moderately and they’re pretty good for convenience in class,” junior Landis Matthews said.
While most of the students’ reasons for opposing the ban was because of inconvenience, one student said it is more than a mere bother:
“Both my parents are both deaf, so during school I’d like to be able to text them and I can’t call them, which is what they want us to do, go into the office and call them. I won’t be able to. It’s really hard, I have to email my mom, it’s very hard to do,” sophomore Matthew Reynolds said. “I think a little limit on it but not a ban completely.”
Superintendent David Behm told News 8 that the first day went off without a hitch. But as soon as the final bell rang, students were out the door peering at their screens to see what they missed.