Superintendent says there is currently no such policy in Frederick County Public Schools.
Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Board of Education is expected to discuss a proposed cellphone policy in local schools. This follows a request from Board of Ed member Lois Jarman, whose recommending an “off and away” policy be adopted. That would mean that students would their keep cellphones turned off, and in their lockers of backpacks.
Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban says there’s currently no system-wide policy on the use of cellphones by students. “Traditionally, it has been that your cellphone is only supposed be out in the classroom for instructional purposes as directed by the teacher,” she says. “But we have allowed our students to have their cellphones when they’re walking through the hallways or at lunch.”
Thurmont Middle and West Frederick Middle Schools require students to keep their cellphones turned off, and out of sight in their lockers or backpacks. They can’t use them at lunch or recess.
Dr. Alban says these schools have adopted this policy so the students can avoid the drama that comes with social media, and to encourage these young people to form relationships with each other. “Some of our middle schools have been experimenting with that,” she says.
The Board of Ed is expected to take up cellphone issues sometime in the fall. “So right now, we are in the discussion phase of whether or not we have any changes to our regulations, or whether the Board wants to adopt a formal policy,” she says.
However, any policy or changes to regulations, says Dr. Alban, will need input from everyone associated with local public schools. “But I know it’s going to be really important for us to hear from high schools, middle schools and elementary schools, and how it plays out at each of these different levels.” she says.
If an “off and away” policy is adopted system-wide, Dr. Alban says it will still be possible for students and their parents to contact each other during emergencies. “If any of our students are involved in a bus accident, one of the first things on our check list is to make sure that every parent is notified,” she says. “That might be by saying to your child ‘would you please text your parent and let us see that they have been made aware and they have responded.’ It may be us calling the parent.”
Dr. Alban also says if parents want to know about their child during an emergency, they can call their kid’s school. “In the event of an emergency, we will make sure that communication is facilitated with the parent,” she says.
By Kevin McManus