During last week’s New Paltz School Board meeting, board members agreed to hear a presentation about a product designed to keep kids off their phones without confiscating them. Trustee Diana Armstead suggested at a meeting in December that the board consider using Yondr locking phone pouches. The phones would be locked in pouches that could be opened at the end of the day or by teachers who consider the technology to be a teaching tool rather than a distraction. However, trustees are at this point divided on whether this might be a worthwhile investment.
School Board member Teresa Thompson believes that “teachers should be empowered” to control phone use, but has also “heard stories from parents” about getting calls from kids having a “panic attack” and having to calm them down. Locking phones down for the day “seems extreme” to her, and if it were to happen at all, she’d like to see them available during lunch and other unstructured time.
Parent Karen Edelman, in voicing her opposition to restricting access to cell phones, called the idea a “serious overstep” that would “create more stress for kids” by “penalizing all.” She encouraged trustees instead to create a policy about the use of devices.
Board president Michael O’Donnell noted that there is language in the code of conduct and some building rules, but believes they could stand to be improved. He appeared to prefer that approach to writing a new policy.
Board member Glenn LaPolt, who is a teacher, called phone use an “epidemic” that leaves students “completely distracted.” Parents who think it’s not a problem, in his opinion, haven’t seen the situation firsthand.