SAN MATEO (KPIX 5) — The assistant principal of San Mateo High School said Monday that students are still getting used to the no cell phone policy implemented in the beginning of the school year, but they’ve received positive feedback from teachers so far.
“For the most part, teachers are loving it, they feel like they got their classrooms back from all these distractions,” Adam Gelb said.
Students must put their cell phones in a sealed pouch at the beginning of the school day, which is then unsealed by the same device during the last bell.
When the policy was piloted last year at the school, it was met with some push back from parents who had concerns, including how they would get a hold of their child during an emergency.
Gelb said he understands the concern and made sure that every classroom and office had the magnetic device just in case of an emergency situation. He also added that the school is able to quickly send mass messages to parents in different languages.
But with the policy now in effect for several weeks, it’s all about refining it.
Gelb said each pouch is assigned a number to a student in order to hold them accountable for lost or broken pouches. For those with medical issues, they’re given a yellow card they can display on their desks that allows them to use their cell phones without repercussions.
But there are students without cell phones at all–Gelb said there are more than 50 who report not owning one. Their parents must sign a form confirming their child doesn’t own a phone.
Gelb said there are also students who have already tried to get around the policy.
“Today I took a phone from a student who had a fake phone in there,” said Gelb.
Dean Qaddaura, a parent of a San Mateo High student, said he’s even heard about students trying to find ways to unlock the pouch.
“They’re still trying, they’re exploring what can they do,” Qaddaura said. “I think it’s normal for kids, teenagers to do that.”
But for the most part, the policy seems to be getting a warm reception and no one seems to be hanging up their hats just yet.
“You get a better teaching environment, but sometimes I want to search something up quickly on my phone and I can’t,” said Miguel Tejada, who is a freshman at SMHS.
“It is bringing it back to the old school,” said Gelb. “My own mom used to drop things off in the office when I forgot my lunch, and I think we need to revert back to that.”