Opinion Roundup: thoughts from around the school on new cell phone restrictions

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The Townsend Harris High School administration recently reinstated a cell phone policy that restricts students from using their phones in the hallways, bathrooms, and stairwells. The policy has been publicized through morning announcements and flyers highlighting different zones where students can and cannot use their phones that have been posted around the building. 

Cell phones are being constantly used throughout the school by students, which is very different from the environment of pre-pandemic Townsend Harris, according to Dean and math teacher Timothy Connor. “A lot of the rules that were implemented in this school before quarantine had become much looser when we came back. Now we really want to transition back to the old norms and rules,” Mr. Connor said.  

Before the pandemic, a demerit could have been issued by having your phone out in any school setting Mr. Connor said, “If any deans like myself or any teachers in the halls let you know to put your phone away, that should be done. If not, this is when there is a problem, and if the problem arises, this is when we are able to give you detention. There should be no issue if you follow simple school rules.” 

The cell phone policy flyer hangs on walls around the school. (Classic Photography Team)

Many teachers share a similar sentiment. Physics teacher David Stern said, “I think this policy makes complete sense, as using the phone in the hallways and stairs with your head glued down to the screen can cause serious accidents. Phones should not even be out during class unless for educational uses, let alone hallways.” 

Classical languages teacher Marianthe Colakis said “I think the cell phone policy is a good start in the right direction since phones should not be taken to the bathroom. Students should not be wasting time there, texting, while class is occurring. Although it is hard to enforce this policy, I think it’s a good rule to put in place.”

 A number of students who spoke to The Classic also said that they understood that this policy was a good way to lessen distractions in class. However, many do not agree with students being forced by teachers to put away their devices. Junior Ioanna Giannopoulou said that she doesn’t have an issue with the policy but believes students using electronics aren’t doing much worse than distracting themselves: “I honestly think it’s just a distraction, which is why I choose to put it away, but I don’t think it’s necessary for teachers to force students to put their device away.”

Freshman Han Ve said she is neutral on the policy. “It’s understandable if the school doesn’t want students to use their cellphones in the stairwells because of possible incidents such as falling or tripping down the stairs. However, I don’t think teachers and deans should be giving students detention for being told numerous times to put their cell phone away,” she said.

Other students said that they disagreed with the policy. “I don’t like this policy and believe its implementation should be discontinued. What if someone calls or texts me [in] an emergency? This is restricting our freedom to use our own personal belongings when they are not even during class sessions,” said sophomore Yahzi Dai. 

Senior Tijon Dembo said, “The cell phone policy doesn’t make much sense to me, as I don’t really think it’s a big deal to take a glance at your phone while being in the halls. You can be notified with important emails and messages regarding school.”

The cell phone policy continues to be enforced despite these mixed responses from the student body.

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