The new school year marks a reversal in the Middle School phone use policy as students in Grades 7 through 9 are now permitted to use their phones during flex and lunch periods, a shift from the ban on phone use for Middle Schoolers during the school day.
However, Middle Schoolers are still not permitted to use their phones during MAPS, free periods, passing periods and community activities like ASMs and class meetings.
After years of discussion between administrators like Director of Middle School Sean Fitts and former Director of Technology and Digital Education Shauna Davis, this policy shift was expedited as COVID-19 made community time and communication much more technology-based.
Middle School students have shared overwhelmingly positive reactions as they can now freely communicate via text messages during flex and lunch periods about where their friends are sitting or plans for after-school pickup.
“This year, I can send a text to my mom without having to worry about getting in trouble,” Sarah Barnavon ‘26 said.
As the school shifts away from conduct infractions, faculty can now report regular noncompliance incidents via a category in the Student Support Form, a form through which staculty can report various concerns such as uniform code issues. If a student receives approximately three or more reports regarding their phone use via the form, a student can have their phone “pouched” during the school day for a week. This would mean that the student would not have access to their phone from 8:30a.m. to 3:00p.m. on school days.
While there is some concern that allowing phone use for Middle Schoolers will lead to an increase in technology usage, Middle School faculty like 7th Grade Dean Kendall Beeman have not observed an increase in phone usage from Middle Schoolers during approved times like lunch and flex.
“So far, I’ve seen students have their phones out, but not glued to their phones during lunch,” Beeman said.
However, Fitts and the Middle School faculty will continue to monitor phone usage during both permitted and non-permitted times as they search for the most understanding yet effective phone use policy.
“We don’t have control over the fact that students have [phones],” Fitts said. “The only thing we can control is how they use them on campus.”