REEDSPORT — The Reedsport Community Charter School unveiled a new cell phone policy for the 2019-20 school year, which aims to keep students focused on their lessons and retain the integrity of the learning environment.
Under the new policy, students will not be allowed to have their cell phones with them while school is in session — the devices can still be kept in lockers and vehicles, and used during breaks. However, making calls, sending texts and using apps during class time will not be allowed. If parents need to get in touch with a student, or a student needs to make a call during lessons, they are advised go through the school office.
"That's a learning environment, we need to keep it a learning environment. It's not a texting environment and social media environment," said Jerry Uhling, principal of the charter school. "The (issue) I'm most concerned with is the integrity of our teaching time, that they need to be involved in."
Violations of the policy will be handled with progressive discipline. Uhling said the first time a student is caught using a cell phone during class, they will receive a warning. From there, the phone will be taken to the office, to be picked up later, and if there are repeated offenses a parent will be called to retrieve the phone.
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Teachers are also being held to no cell phone use during class and are encouraged to follow the same guidelines.
Uhling recalled students were allowed to have phones with them before to access technology that would otherwise require a computer lab. This year, however, the school has issued Chromebooks to each student for use in classwork. Since students will have access to those computers for internet use, research, learning apps and messaging, they no longer need phones for those purposes.
The principal also noted there have been studies about the addictive nature of mobile devices, and indicating cell phone use hinders social development in youths, leading to hindered social skills and the ability to interact in-person. It was also noted how cell phones have impacted bullying in school — that, in the past, a bully was mainly at school and going home was a release from that, but now it's become a more constant issue.
"You get on social media now, it's 24/7 it's non-stop," said Uhling. "There's several issues that are there."