ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — Students of a central Florida school district are in for a surprise when they return to the classroom this month.
The Orange County School District voted unanimously to adopt a cellphone ban into the code of conduct on Tuesday.
The new policy includes a ban on using cellphones during instructional time and also during lunch and the periods between classes, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel. Phones must be kept on silent mode and stored in backpacks or purses.
During the school board meeting, one parent shared concerns with how the new policy could affect children with disabilities.
“I just want to make sure that we’re being mindful of those issues and that kids with disabilities are getting their accommodations without having to make a spectacle of themselves, because they deserve that kind of dignity,” parent Judi Hayes told NBC affiliate WESH. “We know kids who use glucose meters or hearing aids that are controlled by their cellphones.”
The school board amended the policy so that students with disabilities will not be disciplined for using their phones. It also allows students to use them during an emergency.
Teachers pushed for a change to the code of conduct, which previously allowed students to keep phones in their pockets. They said the new policy would help prevent in-class distractions and disciplinary issues.
“Cell phones that are off need to be kept in backpacks and not in pockets,” Clinton McCracken, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, said as he relayed concerns from teachers. “They didn’t think that cyberbullying would be reduced; they may still be using the phone in restrooms to chat with other kids in the school if there is conflict happening.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Superintendent Maria Vasquez said students will be given a grace period during the first few weeks of school to adjust to the policy. After that, disciplinary measures will take effect, which includes the possibility of having phones confiscated until the end of the day.