A big change is coming to Lowell High School, and students are upset.
Starting Monday, cell phones will be required to be turned off and in a designated classroom container during each school period, LHS’s new policy says.
The school said their new policy will not only cut out distractions during classrooms but could remove a source of anxiety and keep students away from online cyberbullying.
“Over the past several years, cell phones have become a serious distraction in the classroom, not only to learning, but to student engagement,” the district said in a statement. “By eliminating the distraction, the time we have for learning and meaningful interaction is made more efficient and effective, which is a win for both the students and the teachers.”
83% of 15-year-olds have smartphones, and a study shows that social media can double the likelihood of depression and anxiety symptoms.
Lowell’s policy said students can use their phones in the hallways in between classes and at lunch. Repeat offenders could have their phone taken, lose the privilege to have a phone at school, or a guardian would have to come to school to pick up the phone.
More than 1,200 people have signed a petition started on Jan. 11 to protest the new policy, posted with an image that says “Coalition Against Tyranny.” The student says the new policy creates “unnecessary tension between teachers and students” and that a phone is an important resource in case of a school or family emergency.
“We believe this newer, stricter policy was not crafted with the student’s best interest in mind, nor with our safety and security as a consideration, and this policy has been met with widespread opposition from us students,” student Kendrick Del Orbe wrote on Change.org.
Del Orbe wrote that students prefer the current cell phone policy, which dictates no use in classrooms except with teacher permission.
“This is not just an inconvenience; it’s an overt security risk and is a distraction from the real issue in our classrooms; unengaging curriculum and condescending teachers,” Del Orbe wrote on the petition.
The school wrote in their policy that families wanting to reach their student during the day can call the school, and “the student can be reached quickly” in case of emergency.
In a statement, the district said they want the students to give the new policy a chance.
“While we applaud the students who oppose the policy for making their voices heard, we urge them to unplug for a while and give the policy a chance to see how it works,” LPS said. “This policy will be reviewed at the end of the school year to see of any changes need to be made, but we would like everyone to give it a fair chance before condemning it.”
According to a poll from Boston.com, 87% of readers agree with Lowell High School’s new policy and think cell phones should be banned in classrooms in Massachusetts.
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