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Cellphones banned in classrooms

Brendan Sheehan l Associate Editor

Students huddle into the auditorium on the second day of school. Principal Chris Groff stands with a mic clutched in his hands, his shoulders relaxed as he breaks the news. Indistinct scoffing and chatter fills the room.

As part of a new initiative to “get students focused on learning,” new rules are being set in place to limit cellphone use and increase productivity.

“We’ve just had an inappropriate usage of phones,” said Groff. “If everyone in our building would use them appropriately, it would be different. We are just not there.”

As of this year, cell phone and earbud use are prohibited in all classrooms and bathrooms. Students who are caught using a phone during class time will be reported to Groff and have their device confiscated for the day.

Phones will need to be left with monitors before entering restrooms. While a small handbag is permitted, backpacks, as per last year’s regulations, are still not allowed.

“The benefits of having no cell phones in the classroom should be obvious,” said assistant principal Mike Rohrbach, who just took his position this year. “Students can be focused on their teachers and the materials being taught.”

The new rules came as a surprise, according to students. Last year being a trial year after times lost to COVID-19, rules about cell phone use were lax.

“Understandably students shouldn’t be on their phones during lectures or notes, but when working on individual assignments I don’t see how earbuds for music or an occasional text message is prohibited,” said senior Olivia Gerhart. “A responsible student will be able to manage their work along with their personal life. “

The no-phones policy within school bathrooms has also raised controversy. According to Groff, phones serve no purpose in a bathroom, and thus should not enter one.

Some students are concerned about their contact home in the case of an emergency, or having spaces to talk to their parents in confidence. According to sophomore Natalie Smith, the freedom to use one’s phone in times of need is essential to safety.

“There are other reasons students take their backpack and phone into the bathrooms such as to get a feminine product or to call their parents in privacy,” said Smith. “Some students need a place to escape and do something to distract themselves.”

The same rules and restrictions applied to study halls the first week of school but were quickly revised over Labor Day weekend to allow cellphone and earbud use after attendance.

“Since so many students like to listen to music while completing homework assignments and like to use the calculator on cell phones, we support the revision,” said Groff in an issued statement to students and parents. “We truly appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts.”

Study halls, however, are to seat students at least one seat a part to reduce conversation and increase productivity.

“I think that for these rules to be put in place there needs to be more student input,” said senior Elsa Thomas. “School is more than just learning all of the time and not everyone has just eight periods a day of studying.”

Groff, Rohrbach, and the other principals have agreed to meet students to discuss their pending ideas and input.

“It is my role as a principal to lead and guide,” said Groff. “It came from hours of principals reflecting, making sure what we are doing works and is good for our kids.”

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