Durango School District 9-R board members expressed interest, even enthusiasm, about a possible ban on student cellphone use in elementary and middle schools.
The board is reviewing a proposed ban that would prohibit students from using cellphones at any time during the day. Currently, students are prohibited from using their phones during instructional time, but they can use them during lunch and passing periods.
The school district began considering a ban in January after the district announced an investigation by the Durango Police Department into the widespread sharing of explicit and inappropriate photographs, mainly via SnapChat, among middle school and high school students.
During Tuesday’s meeting, board members discussed the positive effects they thought a ban might have on school culture.
Board member Kristin Smith said a ban on cellphones would encourage students to talk with each other during their free time and develop social skills they will need as adults. She said at Miller Middle School, students tend to be glued to their phones in their spare time.
“They are not engaged with each other. They are just engaged with this piece of technology,” she said.
Banning phones during the day could also help eliminate some of the segregation that exists between students who have cellphones and those who do not, Smith said.
Mountain Middle School banned cellphones seven years ago, which has helped prevent cyberbullying during school hours, said Head of School Shane Voss, in a previous interview with The Durango Herald.
“Kids need to have a safe zone and focus on school,” he said.
The 9-R board is considering a ban that would mirror a Boulder Valley School District policy that prohibits the use of cellphones, tablets, laptops, cameras, video recorders and all other devices during school hours, unless a child has a disability that requires the use of such a device. The Boulder district requires devices to be turned off and put away.
The district plans to gather more community feedback on the cellphone ban before considering whether to back it. If it were adopted, the ban would not apply to Durango High School.