The blanket ban on students bringing cellphones into public schools in New York City is to be lifted, according to an announcement from the mayor’s office.
The new rules mean that each school principal will be responsible for drawing up their own cellphone policy, with the option of imposing a default policy which will allow students to have their phones with them so long as they are not on show.
New policy on cellphones
Current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to overturn the ruling imposed by his predecessor Michael Bloomberg. De Blasio claimed that “parents should be able to call or text their kids,” drawing on his own experiences as a father of two children who had to ride the subway to school.
Mayor De Blasio also claimed that the move would reduce “inequity” between different areas of the city. Research has shown that the blanket ban was more strictly enforced at schools in poor neighborhoods, which are equipped with metal detectors.
Another side effect of the ban was the rise of cellphone storage businesses next to schools. Local grocery stores or vans, which would drive around several schools in the neighborhood, would look after a student’s phone for the day for a fee of around $1.
Over the course of a year these small fees would add up, with a city source claiming that some families were spending around $180 on phone storage per year.
Punishments for breaking the ban ranged from a verbal dressing down to harsher punishments such as detentions or exclusion from certain activities.
More freedom for principals
Principals will now have the freedom to set rules on the storage of cellphones and their use in certain areas at certain times of the school day. Some smartphones or tablets could even be used for “instructional purposes” according to an official announcement.
If they flout the new rules students will find their phones confiscated. Schools will also be cracking down on pupils using their smartphones to bully their fellow students.
The approximately 1.1 million students attending a New York City public school can expect the new rules to be enforced from early March.