New restrictive phone policy in effect

Bailey Kirkeby, Co Editor-In-Chief

After repeated warnings, Bear Creek administrators will now begin enforcing the school’s policy regarding phone usage when students walk to restrooms during class.

According to Bear Creek Principal Hillary Harrell, this year, administrators plan to uphold the student handbook and school board’s policy of not allowing students to use their personal electronics during “instructional time.”

Although the policy has been in place in previous years, administrators did not strictly enforce it.

“All of the administrators have told people to put away their phones,” Harrell said.  “I think what we haven’t enforced or followed up with is removing the child’s phone from them.”

This year, however, Harrell says administrators will begin taking away students’ phones if they use them during instructional time in an effort to make students more engaged with their surroundings and to more effectively teach students how to function in society.

“I notice young people will come up to me with their earphones in, and that’s not very respectful,” Harrell said.  “That’s probably one of the number one complaints you get from employers about hiring [this generation]: they’re always on their phones and don’t know how to engage with people.”

Harrell says that the number of bystanders who further intensify fights by filming the brawls is also distressing, and she hopes that enforcing the phone policy will help students learn how electronics should be used.

“We [also] had some pretty severe disciplinary situations that took place last year that were made worse because students felt the need to film the situation,” Harrell said.  “I really think that we as adults are doing a disservice by not calling out students on that behavior.”

Harrell says that if administrators see a student using a phone while walking to the restrooms, the phone will be confiscated, and the student will be able to retrieve it from the office at the end of the school day.

“If I’m at the apex and I see a student near the bathroom on their phone, I’m not gonna sprint and try to take their phone away from them, but I’ll have a conversation — hopefully in a lowkey way — and then I will take the phone,” Harrell said.

To similarly address problems of excessive phone use among students, some teachers require students to leave their phones at the front of the classroom during instructional time.

“For my Pre-AP classes, [students] have to turn in their phones to my cell phone box at the beginning of the period, and they can’t get their cell phones back until the bell rings for the end of the period,” Pre-AP and AP Biology teacher Kim Forbis said.  “For AP, there is no cell phone policy; it’s up to them to be responsible.  It’s a college course, so I treat them like they’re college kids.”

Forbis says that she implemented this policy because she wants students to learn that they can experience life without a cell phone.

“By having them turn in their cell phones, I see that they talk to each other more, they communicate better [and] they work better on their assignments,” Forbis said.  “Even if they don’t have their phone out, I find that they’re still waiting for that little text vibration or the text sound… and I think it does weigh on their mind.  I think by having them turn in their phones, it really does free them so they can see that they can survive without a phone.”

Other teachers, however, say that taking students’ phones when they leave class during instructional time does not effectively teach students how to function in society.

“If you take your phone with you to the restroom, it’s not like I’m gonna search you,” English 11 CP teacher Karen Minick said.  “It’s silly.  We’re trying to teach responsibility here.”

Harrell says that so far this year, teachers have sent a handful of phones to the office that were taken from students who used their personal electronic device during class, and school personnel who are stationed around campus during instructional time are now able to confiscate phones without warning.