School districts across the state, from Maryville in Western New York to the nation’s largest in New York City, have banned cell phone use during the school day.
The latest is the Enlarged City School District of Middletown.
Superintendent Amy Creeden sent out a letter to families saying cell phone use during the day is banned. The new policy requires that cell phones be turned off and put away during the school day, even during study hall and lunch. And students' phone use is only allowed before or after the school day.
"I thought it was fabulous," said Justine Schwab, a mom and the PTO president for Twin Towers Middle School. She said she's all for the plan.
"I think it's needed," said Schwab. "Over the past couple of years, even more so since the pandemic, it's gotten much much worse where kids are using them in all sorts of ways to meet up for fights, they film fights."
She said phones are a distraction for students like her daughter.
"Three of her teachers during the school year contacted me about her cell phone use so she wasn’t allowed to use her cell phone any longer in school. It's huge. In class, teachers are trying to teach and kids are getting notification after notification," said Schwab.
But other parents have a problem with the new policy, saying cell phones are needed for emergency situations, especially in light of the recent Uvalde shooting.
“What are they supposed to do? Turn them back on in a panic and wait for their phones to boot up if they need to call 911?” one parent told Spectrum News 1.
Student Parker Schwab said he’s not thrilled but understands.
"I think they could have eased into it a little bit. I think all at once is gonna get people mad, but I guess I understand the rule, but I think it's ridiculous that we can’t use our phones at lunch and study hall," said Schwab.
Superintendent Creeden was not available for an interview but sent a statement saying, "We are focusing on supporting our scholars with both their academics, as well as their social emotional skills, and we feel we can do this best when our young people are focused and engaged. Cell phones are a distraction when doing this incredibly important work."
Justine Schwab hopes without phones, children will focus better in school.
"I hope for less fighting, I hope for more structure in the classrooms, and more learning time," said Schwab.
The superintendent said that phones will be collected if a student is seen using it during the school day. The district will also hold a forum on the new cell phone rules on August 2 at 6 p.m. in the high school. The superintendent will be there to hear parents' concerns.