OMHS adopts new procedure for students’ cell phones

Published 5:54 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2018

NORTH SHELBY – Oak Mountain High School students are being asked to leave their cell phones in their book bags this year.

The accumulation of Google Chromebooks for use in classrooms led school officials to reverse the previous “bring your own device” approach, in which students used their own devices—whether cell phones, tablets or laptop computers—during classroom instruction.

“Bring your own device” was adopted about six years ago, during a time when there were not enough school-owned devices for students to use.

“We want them to be able to use technology correctly,” Sayers said.

Now with about 800 Chromebooks—about a 2:1 student-to-device ratio—officials thought the school was best served by limiting use of cell phones to before 7:40 a.m., during a flexible lunch period called SOAR and, of course, after school.

“We no longer have that gap (between the number of students needing devices and the number of devices available),” Sayers said.

Teachers also have discretion to allow students to use phones if needed to facilitate instruction.

A committee of teachers made the decision prior to the start of the school year, and the new procedure was communicated to students and parents at the school’s open house and through social media.

Chromebooks have been purchased over the years through state technology funding, teachers seeking grants and class fees, Sayers said.

While the change has been well received, for the most part, by students, parents and faculty, one concern voiced was parents contacting their children during the school day, Sayers said.

Parents have been asked to call the main office, and important messages are relayed to students.

As a result of the change, Sayers said she has seen more “kids talking to kids,” office aides spending time on homework instead of on their phones and even books being checked out from the media center.

“I’ve had some describe it as freeing—we were having students using cell phones all day,” Sayers said. “It’s been a good procedural change for us.”