San Jose school to test new plan that restricts the use of cell phones by students

Teachers at James Lick High School in San Jose are initiating efforts to prevent students from using cell phones during class. Students can contribute to this new initiative, which is not an official school policy, by placing their phones in storage bins or keeping them in their backpacks during class.

“This is not a ban,” clarified teacher Michael Gatenby. “We’re not trying to confiscate students’ cell phones. We’re simply setting an expectation that when they enter a classroom, they are there to learn.”

Students will be briefed on the new cell phone guidelines during a school assembly next week. The initiative will be implemented as a trial program during the last grading period of the current year, with full implementation expected in the fall.

“Perhaps students will realize that putting their phones away could improve their interpersonal relationships,” Gatenby suggested. “They might make connections they wouldn’t otherwise. It could also lead to improved academic performance and increased confidence in their abilities.”

Parents have been informed of the changes in recent days. “I prefer the idea of keeping it in your backpack,” commented parent Elsie Reyna. “Don’t take it out. Focus on your school work.”

Student Fanny Trejo, whose guardian permitted her to speak with NBC Bay Area, has started a petition against the new cell phone policy. “I don’t think taking away our cell phones will help us,” she argued. “Some students have mental health issues and need their phones to call home if necessary.”

Under the new plan, students will still be allowed to use cell phones between classes and during lunch.

Campus posters displaying statistics and warnings about excessive cell phone use are already up. Teachers hope this will help students understand the dangers of never taking a break from their phones.

East Side Union High School District Superintendent Glenn Vander Zee issued the following statement:

“Our goal is to help students maintain focus on learning. Students using cell phones during class has always been managed at ESUHSD. Our Board Policy states that students can only use technology with staff permission, ensuring that technology use is focused on learning and aligned with instructional goals.

“We support our site administrators and staff as they explore various methods to manage inappropriate cell phone use in class. One approach used by some schools is providing an optional cubby or storage box at the start of class for students to place their cell phones inside. Students also have the choice to keep their phones with them but put away. This aligns with our longstanding policy that students must have staff permission to use technology during class time.”

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