RACINE — Starting this school year, all Racine Unified middle school students will be subject to the same cell phone use policy.
For middle school students in all of the district’s K-8 schools and Starbuck, its one standalone middle school, students will have to place their cell phones in their lockers at the start of the day and leave them there until dismissal.
Parents and guardians can ask to speak to an administrator about extenuating circumstances, said district spokeswoman Stacy Tapp.
Sarah Nowak, mother of Jerstad-Agerholm 8th grader Kenzie Barlow said she’s in favor of students leaving their phones in their lockers.
“I kind of like it,” Nowak said of the policy.
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Nowak made the point that for years before cell phones became ubiquitous no students had them in class and that worked just fine.
Martha Mack and Tony Mack, parents of 8th grade Gilmore Fine Arts student Antonio Mack, said they would rather that students be allowed to keep their phones in their pockets, on silent mode, so they could be used in the case of an emergency.
Elementary students who attend the district’s K-8 schools — Gifford, Gilmore Fine Arts, Jerstad-Agerholm and Mitchell — and who have cell phones can leave them with their teacher or an administrator at the start of the day. The phone will be returned to the student at the end of the day.
In explaining the policy, Tapp said, “At the K-8 level, particularly middle school, cell phones can become a distraction. Our principals felt it important to have consistent practices at all of our K-8 and middle schools. So, they collaborated to develop consistent messaging to share with families this fall. The K-8/middle school policy aligns with the District administrative regulation... Ultimately, our goal is to ensure positive, engaging and focused learning environments for all of our students.”
Generally, Racine Unified’s codebook does not allow students to use cell phones in class unless given permission from a teacher to use them specifically for school work, but individual schools may have differing policies.