Hoopa Elementary School Prohibits Cell Phone Use On Campus


Misuse Of Cell Phones, Cameras, Social Media

By ALLIE HOSTLER, Two Rivers Tribune

On Monday morning, May 16, parents received an automated text message from Hoopa Valley Elementary School administrators alerting them to a new rule at the school—no cell phone use on campus during school hours.

“Hoopa Elementary will be a cell phone-free campus. This is due to an increase in student misuse of cell phones during the school day,” the text message reads. “Staff members will also be prohibited from using cell phones during the school day in the presence of children. No cell phone from 8:45 a.m.-3:00 p.m.”

HES Principal Paula Wyant said there has been an increase in appropriate use of cell phones on campus over the past couple of weeks.

“We’ve had some students using phones to instigate fights,” Wyant said. “We’ve also had situations where students have videoed others without their permission and videos have been posted on social media.”

Wyant said safety is a priority at school and that inappropriate cell phone use has complicated staff efforts to keep the school safe and conducive to learning. She said staff and faculty have been able to thwart many of the confrontations ahead of time, but they’ve experienced a rise in misuse in recent weeks.

“Some students are announcing fights or using social media to try to get somebody to fight,” she said. “It’s all happening during school, during classes.”

Wyant said HES was on track to implement the new policy for the 2017-2018 school year, but chose to put their plan into action sooner than later, not only to increase safety, but to reduce distractions in class.

“They can be a distraction when teachers are trying to teach. They are not being used as a tool, but instead as a way to instant message within the classroom,” Wyant said. “Public schools have enough distractions without the added distraction of phones.”

She said all of the classrooms on campus are equipped with landline phones and many of the offices also have phones. Staff has been encouraged to accommodate students should they need to call home throughout the day.

As of Monday afternoon, Wyant said she had held about six phones throughout the day for students who weren’t aware of the new policy when they arrived to school.

“They can certainly have them, but they need to be off, locked up, or put away,” she said.

Next school year, Wyant hopes to implement digital citizenship curriculum and have more active conversations with students about responsible cell phone and digital media use.

Some students may not be aware that that their cell phone and social media use can be classified as bullying, or worse, criminal threats and slander. Talking and learning about it can help prevent larger problems down the road.

Staff and faculty are being held to the same policy and have been advised to be prudent about communicating with parents.

“Our staff needs to utilize the same policy. If they are supervising kids, they need to be supervising kids, not necessarily on their cell phone,” Wyant said. “I was pleased at the number of students who reported their parents support the new policy. I really appreciate the parents’ support on this measure.”

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