Local schools adapt policies to cell phone popularity

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Cell phones are a staple in people's everyday lives, including kids. Children as young as 7 are carrying devices, and schools are adapting to the growing trend.

School districts around Region 8 have changed cell phone policies over the years to best accommodate for students.

Leigh Anne Rainey, Jonesboro High School principal, said changes had to be made.

"It won't do us any good preparing them for the future if the future is not something we are really looking at," Rainey said.

Jonesboro High School watched for trends in technology to decide how to handle cell phones.

"Cell phones have become such an integrated part of society," Rainey said. "We needed to progress with that and follow."

The JHS policy is BYOD, which stands for Bring Your Own Device. Students are allowed to carry phones and other electronic devices. They can use them between classes and during lunch, but during class time it is up to the teacher.

"What we noticed was the first year that we allowed them to have their phones on campus and to use them in the hallways, we had almost a 50 percent drop in referrals for discipline," Rainey said.

Valley View School District's policy allows for phones, but no distractions.

"Before school, at lunch, and after school," Valley View High School Principal Roland Popejoy said. "And when we have them in the classroom the teachers can use them at their digression."

Popejoy said there is a fine line when using cell phones at school.

"The challenge we have in education is to try to work to utilize and maximize those benefits that exist while also, again, trying to decrease disruptions," Popejoy said.

Rainey said teachers can decide if they want cell phones used in the classroom. Some teachers said cell phones are a good tool.

"Looking up research, texting in answers on some different text questions and quiz apps that we use," Rainey said.

For school districts, it's all about keeping up with the trends and moving forward for the students.

"Moving more towards what they are dealing with when they get into the colleges and when they get into real world," Rainey said.

But Popejoy said he knows it will continue to be a challenge as technology progresses.

"Technology is booming, to harness the potential but at the same time not allowing it to disrupt and distract education," Popejoy said.

Many other school districts in the area have similar policies to Valley View and Jonesboro. As for elementary and middle school students, most districts don't allow them to use cell phones during school.

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