PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. That’s what the Wood County Board of Education is considering Thursday evening when it comes to a school cell phone policy.

“Our old policy was pretty much a policy that said, ‘No cell phones. No electronic devices,’” according to Wood County Superintendent Patrick Law.

He said teachers and principals soon found out that just wasn’t working.

“We were punishing [students] who were generally pretty good kids, but they just happened to be carrying a cell phone that goes off in class,” explained Law. “It could be as innocent as a phone call from grandma.”

That’s why Law and the board discussed changing the way they looked at electronics in the classroom.

Last spring, they tried a pilot program in the county’s three high schools and one middle school. He said it was what they considered a success. So at Thursday’s board meeting, they’ll vote on expanding that pilot program countywide.

“The new policy allows for their use, allows for students to possess them but not to use them except during designated times of the day, which is generally at lunch time,” said Law.

The other exception is when the principal and teacher agree they can be of use in the classroom when it come to Internet capability or special projects. Law said students respond to this and tend to be more responsible when it comes to their devices and the policy in place.

“It’s recognition on our part that they exist in our world, people are becoming more and more dependent on them and they have great potential for instructional use,” stressed Law.

He said the board of education was on board during the pilot program last school year and believes their vote will be a ringing endorsement to implement the policy in all Wood County schools.

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Comments

  • Alfonso

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  • Poolgirl1218

    Couldn't this opportunity be used to teach some cell phone etiquette? Manners? Technology in the classroom is not something that is going to go away in any form... it won't be long before all hard copy texts will be replaced with online versions... time to crawl out from under our rocks and realize that we are now educating digital natives...

    • Joe

      I would expect the kids parents to teach 'cell phone etiquette', not teachers.

      • Tim

        Joe
        I agree but honestly and it's sad to say teachers for the most part see kids more during the school year than the parents.

  • Wes

    I for one think its a good idea to let the kids have them in a well regulated way. At least at certain times of the day. As a parent for just plain saftey of my child I would want them to carry a cell. Also I would want them to have a cell phone in case I need to get ahold of them. Its faster and at times more practical than to call in to the school office.

  • joey

    here is a thought if these electronic gadgets are so useful, strengthen lessons taught by teachers & all the other accolades these people are singing ,why? are test score & grades so low? just wondering teachers.

  • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

    Let the students use them before school starts within the building, in between classes and lunch. Not during class. Try it. See what happens. It's time to evolve with society and emerging technologies. Geez, enough of the archaic policy making that simply doesn't work!!!

    • Tim

      WV 4 Life
      I like that but that policy only assists students in the social side of cell phones and not the instructional possibilities!

  • Nicole

    Honestly folks cell phones are here to stay. What we need to be teaching our children is how to be responsible citizens in response to all of the tools in our world. Why would we limit the ability of a device that could strengthen the lessons taught by teachers and provide Internet access to all students? Using them at an appropriate time or for inappropriate purposes are the punishable offense is. When you restrict something the temptations to have it is stronger. When you give students freedom but place limitations on it, is when you build responsible young adults. Please before you label me uninformed know that I speak as a teacher, parent, and principal who has worked in schools without cell phones and with. Our students understand what is appropriate to do with their phones, to respect the privacy rights and rules of the adult governing the policies, and more importantly basic etiquette. Unfortunately this is more than I can say for most of the adults that I see on their cell phones in line at the grocery store while the poor cashier is trying to ask them a question.

    • Mark

      Just curious, how are the students that cannot afford the cell phones with internet access affected in class? How would this benefit them?

      • Tim

        Mark
        Great question. When students utilize their own personal devices that frees up school equipment for those who don't have PDAS to make 1 on 1 a reality.

        Another solution is partnering or pair and share.

  • Tim

    CELL Phones and all electronic devices are here to stay. They are powerful and if properly managed can assist in the facilitation of learning.

    21st century learning environments can be supplemented by ED'S..
    The infusion of technology can enhance learning.

    The WVDE supports 1 on 1 technology but schools can't afford to provide this nor can they afford to maintain.

    Good to see Wood County moving FORWARD!
    Jefferson HS in the EP piloted the same program using Zones and it was a huge success!!

    • Leo

      Well Tim, it is obvious that you don't teach school! Kids use their phones for two things, to talk to friends and to cheat. A block is a good idea, we aren't allowed to use our phones during class time so a block would be fine. In an emergency such ad Columbine, that many calls boggs down the system so that critical necessary calls cannot get through.

      • Tim

        Oh you are so wrong!!!
        Cheat? You mean research and find right answers? Expand their critical thinking skills by researching best answers? Tapping into live feeds of surgeries? Virtual field trips? Visiting other classrooms in other states or countries! Sharing ideas with blogs, tweets, Facebook, or texting?
        Or do you mean texting themselves HW assignments, using their cell to copy notes off the board or assignments due?
        Wake up man this is the 21st century!
        Learning is more than books and lecturing!!!
        By 2020 ALL books in schools will be obsolete! Heavy back packs will be replaced with PDAS and smartphones!!
        Trust me Leo I am on the front
        line of this change!

        • WVStarkTruth

          Tim,

          While you may be in the front lines of this change, you may also be part of the problem. Don't tell me that kids don't use texting to pass answers to test questions on the down low. They have no business being turned on in the classroom because even if they are on "vibrate" they make noise enough for someone nearby to hear it and they are a distraction because once the signal is received, they will look at the phone and usually reply. The only way education will improve in our schools (public ones anyway) is to get back to basics, teach the academic subjects exclusively and leave the social engineering, techno-babble, and extraneous junk in the "recycle bin" Time to start over and cell phones don't serve any useful purpose to the point where that purpose outweighs the disadvantages and distractions.

  • Davy

    My gosh, how did we ever survive w/o cellphones in the 80's?

  • Mike

    Before everyone enthusiastically jumps on the "ban all cell phones in school" bandwagon, it might not hurt to recall that the first calls to 911 during the Columbine shootings were from students- using their own cell phones. How about a rule that says no audible sounds from a cell phone in class, no use in class, and cell phones ringing or otherwise alerting can be confiscated? Each subsequent violation could result in a longer confiscation period. This could be spelled out in a cell phone policy that students AND parents would have to sign; no signed agreement equals no cell phone.

    • Jephre

      That makes too much sense, Mike - an easy solution to a touchy problem. Turn 'em off in class. Period.

  • Joe

    So who is doing the teaching to a 12 year old when using their cell phone for ''special projects''?

  • Joe

    Wonder how teachers feel about this, given that student attentivness and discipline are noted as primary concerns. Or is this program that also allows teachers to take personal calls during class time?

  • GregG

    Well Grandma should know that the kid was in school. I see no reason that a student needs a phone during school hours. If they have and issue and need to call a parent, I'm sure the school has an office with a phone. And if grandma needs to call little Susie, she can call the school office. Kids and these phones have been nothing but a problem, so why make matters worse. In my opinion most adults shouldn't be allowed to use these things.

    • Jennifer

      Yea the school has phones in the office but have any of you ever tried to get permission to use it?? Usually you're told no. Or if you are granted permission the Secretary is listening to your conversion...Idk about you guys but when I was a freshman cell phones were allowed and people used them responsibly. By the time I was a senior I was almost kicked out of school for it. And I was an excellent student!!!

  • tw eagle

    why not do the simple thing of blocking the signal in the school area , it would seem a simple fix for autos and education . . .a
    safety and learning tool . . .it won't happen,
    but I feel it should . . .people driving concentrating on driving and kids in school
    concentrating on learning . . .eliminating a
    gadget from operating and distracting people
    from tasks that shouldn't be interrupted . . .

    • Realist

      In principal you have a great thought, but blocking those signals would mean blocking other important signals that would be needed in emergency situations.

      Also, these "gadgets" can be really useful tools. The ability to download ebooks and other apps on smartphones can actually be used to create teaching moments and expanding learning in a way that students can carry what they are doing in class with them in their pockets at all times.

      • tw eagle

        if the teachers lesson plan is well thought out , having to download material during class is never in need . . .were there any
        "emergency" the block could be "turned off" . . .opening communication to all . . .
        FAMILY EMERGENCIES ? call the school administrator and alert the child in class . . .

        • wolf

          The FCC would never approve a cell phone blocking device. Prisons have been trying to get the devices to jam cell phone usage by inmates but it is against the law to use a cell phone jamming device unless approved by the FCC. I doubt if they would allow schools to jam cell phones when they won't allow prisons to use the devices to keep inmates from using cell phones which is much more dangerous than a student using a cell phone.

  • a concerned educator

    I completely agree with Morgantown. This is just going to lead to other issues.

  • Morgantown

    As simple as a phone call from grandma? Who wouldn't know the kid was at school??? Unless it's a true emergency, students should NOT have cell phones while in class. The lunch period access is a different story...

    • Habib Haddad

      Totally agree. Use them only between class and during lunch hour. Too much interference with instruction otherwise.