Cell phone use was banned at both Chicopee High School and Chicopee Comprehensive High School in February of 2022. Chicopee, who used to have a cell phone policy similar to West Side’s, now prohibits cell phones, earbuds, airpods and headphones not only in classrooms but in the entire school. This change was welcomed by the School Committee who voted on the matter 11 to 1.
The phone ban in Chicopee came after teachers reached out for help as they could not seem to keep their students’ attention during class. This new policy would eliminate their use of cell phones during lunch and in designated areas and it no longer allows them to use their cell phones for academic purposes
At Chicopee High School the principal, Carol Kruser, is also considering using a program called Yondr which involves locking phones in a pouch that is magnetically sealed and unsealed by the magnetic base. The office or faculty would seal the pouches when students enter the building and unseal it when students leave. Students are allowed to keep the pouch with their phone in it but will not be able to open the pouch until leaving the building. This pouch doesn’t block or jam signals; it simply denies students access to the device. Principal Kruser has not used the Yondr pouches yet, but the school is considering it. If the school does want to use the pouches they will not need to have the school committee vote on it seeing as the committee deals with policy while the administration handles the implementation. If the school does decide to use the pouches, a trial program will begin in March of this year and run through next year.
If this policy or a similar policy was instated at WSHS, it would be met with strong reactions from the students, faculty, and community. Phone policy changes are being talked about in many districts in MA and across the nation. Many students think that these rules should not be put into place here at West Springfield High School.
Here at WSHS cell phone usage among students has increased since coming back to in-person learning.The school has gone from having the “off and away” policy to phones being used at the discretion of the teacher when in the classroom, as well as allowing use in the halls during passing time and in the lunchroom.
Many students here think that we should keep the cell phone policy that we have now.
“Limited yes. Banned no. I personally don’t think that there is any reason to ban cell phone use between classes or if all work has already been completed,” said sophomore Anthony Pierce. Students agreed that phone policies now are lenient enough for students to have access to their phones but strict enough so that students are able to learn and not be distracted.
The current policy leaves it up to the teachers and the rules they have for their classroom, and many students felt it should remain this way.
“It should depend on the teacher’s rule and their way of perceiving phone use,” said junior Sherlyn Aguilar. In many classes teachers have differing policies. Some require phones and all technology (AirPods, earbuds or headphones) to be off and out of sight or issue warnings. Others are fine with students having phones on their desks and others allow students to listen to music while they work. A few even offer incentives to keep phone use down or use “cell phone parking garages” to house phones during instructional time.
Much like students, teachers have mixed opinions about adopting a school-wide cell phone ban like in Chicopee. English teacher Mr. Giguere, said, “In order to make that work, that would have to be the number one priority of every adult in the building, every minute of the day.” Regarding the Yondr phone pouches, he felt that if we were to use the pouches here at WSHS it would be more work than it’s worth, because it would require constant supervision from teachers and staff.
Some students acknowledged that phones may lead to problems getting work done when allowed access to them but believe that phones should not be limited because the majority use them properly, “Cell phone use should be limited but not banned. There is a right and wrong time to use your phone,” said senior Emma Giang.
English teacher Ms. Corduff thinks that the cell phone policy is something that needs to be looked at, “While phones can be used in instruction and we are evolving towards incorporating more technology to engage students, there needs to be consistent policy that will limit phone use and make phones less distracting,” she said. Corduff feels that students are too distracted by cell phones in class and worries that we’ve created a level of inattention that we may not be able to come back from.
“There are far more valuable skills than ‘multitasking’. Checking in to social media, gaming, taking selfies, and managing to squeeze in some work for six different classes all during one period and narrowly dodging a support beam between classes might seem like the new norm but any worthy accomplishment in history has required time, focus, and perseverance,” she said.
According to WSHS Principal, Mr. Danby, we are not planning on updating the cell phone policy this year. As for right now, Chicopee High school and Chicopee Comprehensive School are the only schools who have officially changed their policies. However, many districts in MA and across the country are considering changing theirs as well.