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85% of parents and staff in the Park City School District fully support a cellphone ban in schools

A phone holder hangs in a classroom at Delta High School, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Delta, Utah. At the rural Utah school, there is a strict policy requiring students to check their phones at the door when entering every class. Each of the school's 30 or so classrooms has a cellphone storage unit that looks like an over-the-door shoe bag with three dozen smartphone-sized slots. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer
/
AP Photo
A phone holder hangs in a classroom at Delta High School, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Delta, Utah. At the rural Utah school, there is a strict policy requiring students to check their phones at the door when entering every class. Each of the school's 30 or so classrooms has a cellphone storage unit that looks like an over-the-door shoe bag with three dozen smartphone-sized slots.

The Park City School District has released the results of a survey meant to gauge staff and parent opinions on cellphone use in schools.

The district has been talking with parents and students about school cellphone use for several months. Parents helped organize two panel discussions on managing devices in school and the negative effects of social media.

During the discussions, many people said phones should not be allowed in schools. Now, data shows parents and staff in the district agree.

Over 1,500 parents and staff at Ecker Hill Middle School, Treasure Mountain Junior High and Park City High School responded to the survey sent out in May. It found 85% of parents feel student cellphone use negatively impacts their child at school, with 51% strongly agreeing and 34% somewhat agreeing. Further, almost 88% of staff felt cellphones in school negatively impact students.

Among respondents, 44% said they are not familiar with their child's current school cellphone use policy. Each school in the district has different rules related to the devices.

Cellphones are not allowed during class time at Treasure Mountain or the high school, but they are allowed before and after school and during passing periods. Students are not allowed to use devices during the school day at Ecker Hill, including during lunch. Treasure and Ecker have exceptions for phone use during class if a teacher requires them for a lesson.

Holland Lincoln, a district parent who helped organize panels, said she prefers Ecker’s policies.

“Going to school is just as much about social-emotional learning as it is about academics,” she said. “If they're not engaging socially and emotionally like presently with their peers, and instead they're looking at screens and engaging with, like, a virtual world, you really lose out.”

Overall the survey found 85% of respondents – both teachers and parents — support a student cellphone ban at school.

While there are different methods to keep devices out of students’ hands during class time, the district asked about one method: a locked pouch system. Schools across Utah are starting to use pouches like Yondr, which is a single pouch for each phone with a magnetic base. Once the pouch is closed, it’s locked. It can only be unlocked using a magnet in a teacher’s possession.

About 74% of respondents believe that a cellphone pouch system would be beneficial.

Teachers at Granger High School are using the method and Lincoln said Park City School District should also give it a try.

“We should try all the things and figure out what works best for what age range, and then go from there,” she said.

Granite School District is working on a district-wide ban on cellphone use in classrooms. Park City School District also has a no-cellphone policy in the works.

If the policy is adopted, students would not be allowed to use phones during school hours, but it’s up to teachers and schools to determine how to enforce a ban. There are exceptions for students who need devices to monitor health concerns or for translation purposes.

“I hope the school board will support it,” Lincoln said. “I think it's still going to be challenging if kids bring their cell phones to schools and teachers and administrators have to police it. I'd love there to be a policy where they can't even bring them to school. But I think this is a step in the right direction.”

The district board will vote on the policy at its meeting August 20. The community can comment during the board meeting or share their thoughts via email at communication@pcschools.us.