While cell phones and other devices have many benefits, they can be a distraction to student learning and harmful to mental wellbeing. Beginning in fall 2023, school policy at all schools will be to keep phones and personal devices “off and away the entire day”. Later this year at CHS, LMA, and Buford, students will start using magnetic Yondr pouches to store their devices during the day (“off, Yondr, and away”). (Once turned off and in the magnetic pouch, the students can carry the phone or place it in their backpack.) You can find additional information in the attached PDF and images, or read on, below.
Thank you for your support of the “off and away the entire day” phone policy this fall. We have heard reports that it is making a big difference in our classrooms, and to a lesser degree, in our hallways, lunchrooms, and restrooms.
We know that the impact of student cell phone use is not only felt in classrooms. Cell phone use impacts our students’ mental health, their in-person relationships, and the overall school culture.
As we mentioned earlier this year, we are continuing to explore and work with Yondr, the company that coordinates a program of magnetic pouches that hold phones. The Yondr team will be meeting with the Buford and CHS staffs next week to address practical questions and teach their protocols. As we prep for these meetings, we thought it would be helpful for you all to take a few minutes to watch this video Yondr produced providing an overview of their program.
In the coming weeks and months, we will share additional resources, such as past webinars with Yondr clients as they honestly and openly discuss the challenges and wins of implementing Yondr in their public schools. We are also planning opportunities for our students to learn about the impacts of cell phones and social media, providing opportunities for dialogue.
Thanks for your support of our schools!
Dear Buford and CHS families, students, and staff –
We wanted to give you an update about our student cell phone policy.
As you know, we held some initial feedback meetings in the community and on a zoom meeting before starting the school year with “off and away the entire day.” Now that the school year is underway, the cellphone committee will resume its work, and we will begin scheduling more opportunities for students, staff, and families to share feedback.
We thought we’d supply an update about “how it started” and “how it’s going.”
How it Started – Off and Away the Entire Day
How It’s Going – Exploring Yondr Pouches
What We’ve Heard
As we have discussed Yondr pouches, we’ve heard three main areas of concern:
Last-minute transportation changes due either to family situations changing or a school cancellation of after-school activities, etc.
Concerns about whether the schools’ offices can handle family phone calls
Access to phones during emergency situations
We will bring these and other questions to Yondr, which operates in schools in 16 countries, and to public schools that are already using Yondr pouches. We know that these concerns are universal, not unique to any one location, and we hope to learn from other communities.
What We’re Doing
In the meanwhile, however, we’d like to begin working on the feedback we have heard. Here are three things we’ve done so far:
At Buford, we broadened families’ ability to reach their students via email (matching what was already in place at CHS) to give families an additional way to work out, for example, last-minute changes in transportation. (Make sure your student has added your emails to their school Gmail address book!)
We are going to be implementing a phone routing system in some of our school offices to better manage phone calls and lighten the load of school staff at our bigger schools.
Along with ParentSquare, we have implemented StudentSquare for CHS students so that they can stay up to date on both routine school news and unexpected situations.
As for access to phones during emergency situations, this is the top question we have received, and we take it very seriously. We know it is only human to want to be connected in situations where stress is high. We continue to research best practices for emergencies or unexpected situations. This applies to our training and preparation for safety situations, our communications to students/staff/families, and our decision-making around students’ access to phones in such circumstances. Because this is so important, we will stay in the mode of “off and away the entire day” until we have a plan that gains consensus among staff, students, and families.
Next Steps: More Research, More Listening
Thanks for your continued partnership!
Dear Buford and CHS families –
We are excited to welcome you to school for open houses and the start of classes next week.
Thanks to a number of you for reaching out with questions or comments relating to our cell phone procedures.
Off and Away The Entire Day at Start of School Year
Additional Listening and Learning about Yondr
Disconnecting from phones will allow us to connect with each other, connect with learning, and connect with calm. Let’s all work together to improve our learning, relationships, and mental wellness.
More About Safety
What's a "Personal Device"?
What about Teachers/Staff?