Texas district says it’s requiring students to lock away phones during school

Bags can be reopened by touching a sensor; no plan in place yet for emergencies

Classroom (Pixabay)

A school district in Central Texas will require high school and middle school students to zip up their cell phones during class in the upcoming school year.

Thorndale Independent School District, located in Milam County, said students must use a Yondr magnetic pouch to secure their devices while they’re at school. Thorndale is located about 30 miles east of Round Rock and has about 600 students, KXAN reported.

Students will be able to keep their sealed devices with them, but the pouches won’t be opened until the end of the school day, Thorndale administrators said in a letter to parents last week.

Students will tap their pouches on an unlocking base when leaving school. They must also place their smartwatches and wireless headphones in the pouch.

Administrators said the purpose of the pouches is to make the high school and middle school a phone- and electronic device-free space.

The letter stated that administrators went to Corrigan-Camden ISD, a district in East Texas that also implemented Yondr, to gauge the success of the pouches there.

“They said that it has been transformative,” administrators said in the letter. “They said that classroom engagement is much better, student distraction is far lower and the time spent chasing down cyberbullying and cyber safety issues has almost been non-existent. The teachers we talked to said that this system made a huge difference in how their classrooms function.”

The letter states that they hope that by removing phones in the classroom, students and teachers will have “a much more productive and safe educational environment.”

Every student from sixth to 12th grade will be issued a Yondr pouch and must bring that pouch to school every day. Even if students don’t have electronic devices, they must show their empty pouch.

The district said it is working on a plan for students to access their phones during an emergency situation. Each classroom and office has a phone that could be used in emergency situations, the district states.

If a student gets caught with their device out, they will get charged $15 and will have to spend at least one day in suspension.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.