MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — Illing Middle School in Connecticut is trying a new way to keep kids off their phones during school: locking up devices in pouches.
The pilot program was presented at a board of education meeting on Monday night. The middle school will try out the pouches this school year, and staff will share the results of the program in June.
Superintendent Matt Geary said middle school teachers spend a lot of time confiscating phones during class.
“Kids are generally cooperative when you ask for their phone,” he said. “I think we’re just trying to help nip that in bud a little further.”
The idea for using the Yondr pouches came from the school principal, Idelisa Torres, and the 8th grade assistant principal, Ray Dolphin.
Torres said students are distracted by social media.
“Preventing the use of cell phones for social media allows us to engage our students in the learning in the curriculum,” Torres said.
Under the pilot program, students would bring their pouch to school and lock their phones before class starts. They can carry the phone with them during the school day, but students can only unlock the pouch at the end of the day.
Some parents are against the idea.
“I’m OK with them putting their phones in a bucket before they go into a classroom or keeping them in their backpacks but if something happens, if there’s lockdown or they need their parent for some reason, I think they should have the ability to call their parent,” Jennifer Maldonado.
Torres and Dolphin said exemptions can be made for students with medical issues. In an emergency, Dolphin said students can use scissors to cut through the pouch.
“We have cell phones as well as teachers, we have drills and procedures in place to respond to emergencies,” he said.
Susan Vedaa, a parent, said scissors won’t be easy to find in an emergency.
“If my child is in an emergency situation, she’s not going to have scissors in her back pocket,” she said. “I want her to be able to access my husband, myself, if she needs to.”
The pouches would cost the district about $20,000. Geary said the costs would be covered with the Connecticut Stronger Connections Grant Program the district is applying for.