Sarasota County School Board approves new cell phone policy

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota County students will face big changes to cell phone use when they return to class in the fall.

By a vote of 5-0, the Sarasota County School Board approved a new cell phone policy.

Sarasota school officials spent months getting feedback from thousands of teachers and parents before crafting a final policy.

The last time Sarasota County Schools updated its cell phone policy was in 2012. Since then, so many new apps and technologies have appeared, so the school board needed to give the policy a facelift.

“We had students that were using cell phones at school during elementary grades. That’s unacceptable,” Sarasota County School Chair Jane Goodwin said.

Tuesday morning, school board members debated and discussed a proposed policy, and they finally came to an agreement.

Elementary school students cannot use electronic devices at all, middle school students can only use them while supervised and high school students can only use the devices between classes, during lunch or under supervision.

If students have smart watches, they cannot use them during class and if a high school student is walking down the hallway with earbuds or air pods, one of them must be removed at all times.

“I think it’s a good agreement, I think it’s a good way for students to have some privileges for cell phones as the state says they should have and can have but it also quarantines them in elementary school, gives them a bit of privilege in middle school and then more privilege in high school,” said Goodwin.

On July 31st, administrators and school staffers will be trained on the new policy.

“Our principals should be aware that this is our policy and not say, well I changed my mind and I’ve decided to do X, Y or Z,” said Goodwin.

School board members stress they want this new policy enforced and the language is written to address any new cell phone technologies that may emerge in the future.

Officials say the policy will take effect just in time for the new school year.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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