New York City to Lift Long-Standing Ban on Cellphones in Schools

By Denisa R. Superville — January 07, 2015 2 min read
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New York City will end its ban that bars cellphones and other electronic devices in schools, according to the New York Daily News, which broke the news late Tuesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who committed to ending the prohibition on cellphones in schools when he ran for mayor last year, is expected to make the announcement at a press conference with Chancellor Carmen Farina on Wednesday afternoon.

The ban, which had become extremely unpopular, particularly among parents, could lift as early as March 2, according to media reports.

De Blasio has said that parents need to be able to keep in touch with their children during the school day, especially during emergencies. His own son, Dante, takes his cellphone to school, de Blasio has said.

The policy was also not routinely and uniformly enforced, and the students who were caught most often were the ones who attended schools that had metal detectors.

Students had also adopted the expensive measure of paying nearby businesses to hold their phones during the school day.

Farina also makes the argument for the policy change, including the educational benefits, in a guest column published Wednesday in the Daily News.

But the new cellphone era comes with some restrictions. Students will be able to take their phones to school, but principals and teachers will have to develop plans on how and where they can be used, according to the Daily News.

According to the Daily News, options include allowing students to store the devices—which will include cellphones, iPads and other portable electronics—in their backpacks or in a designated area during the school day. Students may also be able to use the devices during lunch or in designated areas, or principals can allow them to use the phones in class for instructional purposes.

In ending the ban, New York City, the nation’s largest school district, will be joining many others—both large and small—that permit students to use their personal electronic devices in school. Many districts’ policies go much further, by allowing students to use their cellphones, iPads and other electronic devices in class as part of district-sanctioned Bring Your Own Device or Bring Your Own Technology programs. Several districts also have one-to-one digital programs.

To accompany the new freedoms, schools will now also have to conduct training on cyberbullying and “responsible digital citizenship,” according to the Daily News.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.