Cell Phone Policy at BCS
Dear Belfast Families,
BCS prioritizes the safety and well-being of all students and staff, while promoting the best learning environment possible. Unfortunately, cell phones have become an increasing disruption to the learning environment throughout the building this year. Students have taken and shared inappropriate pictures and videos, have used devices to bully other students, focused attention to sending and receiving texts during classes, and accessed inappropriate content that has created disruptions in learning.
The BCS student handbook does not permit cell phones for students in grades PK-6, and cell phone use for students in grades 7-12 is at teacher discretion.
In response to the growing disruptions to learning, starting on Monday, April 17th students will no longer be allowed to have cell phones, personal devices, or any smart devices that send or receive text messages or calls during the school day. If any of these items are brought into school, the device(s) must be turned off and in the student’s locker when the first bell rings at 8:05, until dismissal.
I’m sure families will have many questions about the policy. Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions that have been asked by our school community.
What about emergencies? Building safety and security is the foundation this plan was built upon. If your child experiences an immediate emergency, BCS has network phones in each classroom, along with landlines in all of our offices. In the event of a building crisis, the school has a Safety Plan to connect with our community. Also, security and emergency officials have underlined the importance of following existing safety protocols that include keeping phone lines open and accessible in the event of an emergency. Students can access a telephone in the Main Office.
What about my child’s mental health? BCS fully understands the severe impact that the pandemic has had on all of our students. I assure you that we have an overwhelmingly dedicated staff of teachers, aides, nurses, counselors, social workers, and psychologists who are professionally trained to assist with our students’ needs. As a district, we try and offer our students numerous interventions and opportunities to help cope with any problems they encounter during the course of their day.
Why can’t phones be used during lunch or study halls? Less structured times of the day, like lunch or study halls, have seen higher levels of students taking and sending unwanted pictures and photos, cyber bullying, and discipline referrals from inappropriate device usage.
What about other daily updates? Updates, such as sports practices, games, and cancellations, can be accessed through our school website and Facebook page. For example, if you go to our “Athletics” page on our school website, you can sign up for automatic text and e-mail notifications as soon as a game is canceled or rescheduled. There is also an app you can download to your phone. Students can also call from the Main Office if it’s an emergency.
What will happen if my child does not follow the no cell phone policy? If a student does not follow the cell phone policy, incremental discipline actions will be taken.
1st Violation: The first violation will result in the cell phone being confiscated and taken to the office. The student will be able to pick their cell phone up at the end of the day.
2nd Violation: The second violation will result in the cell phone being confiscated and taken to the office. The student’s parent or guardian will be notified and will need to come to the school and pick up the cell phone.
3rd Violation: The third violation will result in the same consequences as violation #2, along with two nights of afterschool detention for the student
BCS also reserves the right to increase disciplinary actions for repeated violations and/or egregious offenses.
Research on the impact of cell phones on children is available on the BCS webpage to help our students and families understand how the devices are impacting learning and development. Please visit the ‘For Families’ tab and Resources for Parents section to find cell phone research.
Technology is a part of our daily lives. BCS has provided an iPad for every student in the building, which will allow students to continue to use technology for learning without the distractions that have grown with cell phones.
We appreciate your support to ensure your student is prepared to comply with this policy.
Dr. Wendy Butler