May 16, 2024 - News

Grant High School proposes student phone ban

Student putting phone into a green pouch while another one stands nearby

Grant High School will require students to lock their phones all day starting next school year. Photo: Courtesy of Yondr

One Portland school wants to keep students off their phones during school hours by requiring them to put their devices in pouches that can only be unlocked at the end of the day, starting in the fall.

Why it matters: School officials say such actions are needed to ensure students aren't distracted in class. But some students say it's unfair because it penalizes students who already do concentrate in class but want to use their phone on breaks.

Driving the news: Grant High School's principal told parents last week that it will adopt Yondr pouches for the 2024-25 school year.

How it works: The students will be allocated a personal pouch for phones, smart watches and earbuds. They will lock the devices into the pouch before school and cannot unlock it until the end of the school day, at an unlocking station.

  • If a student damages the pouch or is caught on their phone, officials said they will confiscate the phone and return it to the student's parent.
graphic showing how to put a cell phone in a Yondr pouch
Students at Cleveland High School will be issued a locking, personal pouch to store their devices, which can only be unlocked at a special station. Graphic courtesy of Yondr

What they're saying: In a message shared with Grant families about the changes, principal James McGee said the policy would "foster a more focused and engaging learning environment."

  • Phone-free classrooms lead to "improved academic performance, increased student engagement, enhanced focus and concentration, reduced distractions and disruptions and stronger social interactions and collaboration among students," he wrote.

The other side: Grant sophomore Noah Brown has over 900 signatures to his petition on Change.org to fight the Yondr proposal. He told Axios the ban is unfair.

Between the lines: Some Grant teachers already ask students to put phones in a holder that's like a series of pockets, at the front of the classroom, a system Brown said is adequate for teachers who enforce it.

Grant parent Joy Wilson told Axios she's against the phone ban, saying schools should be teaching students how to manage their screen time instead.

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