The change in policy this year was approved by the TUSD Board of Education as part of the new student handbooks for Tracy, West, Kimball and Stein high schools.
Students can use cellphones when they are not in the classroom — before and after school, at lunch and between classes, according to Paul Hall, TUSD director of student services.
“We felt empowering the students at this age level was the right move,” Hall said. “We’re living in a day and age of technology, and where communication is constant.”
Hall said embracing technology is a good thing, as long as students follow the rules.
Before the change, students were not allowed to use cellphones on campus during school hours. That policy still applies at TUSD elementary and middle schools.
Kimball junior Kshicij Shah likes the new policy.
“It’s a good idea, if you ever need to communicate with an adult,” he said. “As long as you’re not using it inside the classroom, I don’t think you’re damaging the learning environment.”
Hall said easy access to cellphones enables students to call for help in an emergency situation or report a campus crime.
“It’s always great for emergencies,” Hall said. “Many years ago, when I was in another district, there was an emergency where a girl was having a seizure. The phone I had, I couldn’t get a signal, and a student walked up to me and said, ‘I have a phone and I have a good signal.’ He asked if he could call 911.”
The policy was implemented in August and written into the student handbook. Campus administrators made announcements to staff members and students at the start of the school year, Hall said, and so far there have been no major problems.
Anyone found in violation of the policy without good cause is considered to be breaking rule 48900K, he said, which is considered a defiance or disturbance. Possible punishments include counseling, parent conferences or confiscation of the phone for the day.
To measure the policy’s success or failure, Hall said an end-of-the-year survey of teachers, students and parents will include a question or two about technology use on campus.
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