Bexley City Schools students will be required to leave their cellphones in their lockers during class time when the 2019-20 school year starts, according to a new policy the district announced June 3.

Bexley Middle School principal Jason Caudill said the policy stems from teachers’ and administrators’ observations over the past couple of years that students’ cellphones have been a distraction.

“Students are having a hard time giving their full attention during class with the constant barrage of notifications and messaging,” Caudill said by email. “Research has shown consistently that technology addiction is real and kids at this age are particularly susceptible. We want to empower our students to fully engage in learning and we believe this policy will help place healthy boundaries to do so.”

Superintendent Kimberly Pietsch Miller said the policy is in keeping with the strategic plan the district adopted last year.

“Eliminating the distraction of personal devices during the instructional times in the student day is putting our students at the center of our decision," Miller said.

Under the new policy, elementary school students will be required to leave their cellphones in their lockers during the entire school day, whereas middle and high school students may use their phones between classes, at lunch and during recess, Caudill said.

“In the case of a family emergency, we would encourage parents to do what they have always done and contact the office,” Caudill said. “Many times an emergency is better handled with face-to-face support, such as having a counselor or trusted adult sharing that information.”

In the case of an active-shooter situation, students should follow school safety protocols and listen to adults on site with the information and training to handle such an event, Caudill said.

“First responders need to be able to communicate, and having hundreds of students on cellphones can interfere with that,” he said. “As a parent, I understand the panic that sets in when you are unsure about your own child’s safety, but the last thing I would want to do is take my child’s attention away from those who have the most information about the situation.

“Students need to be fully present during an emergency and unintentionally parents could interfere with that and possible put others in danger,” he said.

For more information, visit bexleyschools.org.

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