Citing bullying, Springfield-area district bans cellphones

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Students will no longer be allowed to bring cell phones, smartwatches, headphones, digital cameras, and other electronic devices to class at Crane Schools.

The Stone County District, 30 miles southwest of Springfield, notified parents of the policy change this week.

This fall, students will be required to leave their devices at home or locked in vehicles.

All cell phones or other electronic devices brought to school must be checked into the office, where they will remain during the school day.

“Students used their personal electronic devices for many things that led to this policy change, including but not limited to inappropriate videos, cheating on educational assignments, and most importantly, bullying and harassment through social media,” said Daniel Davis, director. of Crane High School, in the June 22 letter. “Our hope is to teach our students to invest in themselves and in their education, disconnecting from the hold that mobile devices have on their lives.”

Davis said students who violate the policy will have their phones taken and parents will be asked to pick them up. Any subsequent violation will result in in-school or out-of-school suspension.

Crane teachers previously had the ability to set how many smartphones and related devices were allowed in the classroom.

In a phone interview Friday, Davis said the school board and many parents support the change.

He said cellphones are a convenience and a tool and have been allowed to be used in some school assignments and classroom presentations. But, he added, “overwhelmingly they have been more of a nuisance.”

“There are a lot of negatives. We have kids who will try to create a TikTok in the bathroom or during class, SnapChat, and that’s really going to help us reduce some of our biggest bullying issues,” did he declare.

He said that about 90% of bullying that happens is through electronic devices.

Davis, who will serve as vice-principal at Willard High School this fall, said heavy use of electronic devices is impacting students’ ability to concentrate and learn.

“Time spent in front of that screen…takes away from time spent in front of a book or a teacher,” he said.

He acknowledged that the new rule will be difficult to enforce.

“We’re still going to have problems. There are a lot of things that are going to be sorted out through this process,” he said. “We did research, talked to other districts.”

After:Missouri High School Bans Student Cell Phones and Smartwatches Starting April 4

Parents who want their children to be able to carry a cell phone due to medical conditions will be able to apply for a hardship waiver.

Davis said that this fall, parents will need to contact the front office to convey any type of important message to their children, such as a change in pickup plans.

At Crane, which has nearly 575 students, the elementary has a long-standing policy to restrict cell phone use.

“Part of the impact we hope to see is that their social-emotional skills are prioritized. We want to see them grow as people, have one-on-one conversations and that social interaction with students,” said Davis said. “What’s been a big benefit of having these phones is that our noses get stuck in them and we don’t always take the opportunity to invest in those around us.”

Claudette Riley is the News-Leader’s educational reporter. Email news tips to [email protected]

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