WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education on Monday night revised a draft of a proposed new policy on student use of electronic devices, including cell phones.
The policy clarifies where and when students at each school level may have and use electronic devices during the school day.
Devices include cell phones, smart watches, video recording devices, personal digital assistants, iPods, iPads and laptop and tablet computers. The board last revised the electronic devices policy in 2003.
For the most part, elementary and middle school students would not be allowed to use electronic devices during the school day, with less stringent rules for high school students and a provision that a staff member may allow device use at any time.
On Monday, board members discussed the changes that Carrie LaTorre, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, made from the board’s comments earlier this month during an instructional committee meeting.
The revised draft defines “instructional school day” as “the moment a student enters the school building until the final dismissal bell.” The phrase “kept in the off position” means “powered completely off and is not simply set on a vibrate, silent, standby, hibernation or airplane mode.”
Elementary and middle school students would be able to use electronic devices while “waiting for the beginning of the instructional day,” the policy states, including on the school bus. Currently, the draft policy requires the use of headphones for those students, but board member Kathy Castelli proposed that headphone use only be required when audio is present.
High school students may use devices before and after school, during lunch “or in an emergency situation that involves imminent physical danger,” the policy states. At all other times, student devices must be kept turned off and out of sight, unless a staff member grants permission, use of the device is part of the student’s Individualized Education Program or in an emergency situation.
Board member Patrick Reyonlds wanted to add the consequences of student violation of the policy. Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said the consequences would be a companion piece in the school district regulations, and put in student handbooks. The policy, Menzo said, just outlines the board's philosophical view.
Board member Tammy Raccio wanted to further define the instructional day to incorporate YMCA before- and after-school care programs on school grounds, citing bullying concerns. Menzo said that the school district doesn't have that ability since the Y is an outside agency.
The board is slated to discuss the policy, and possibly adopt it, at its Aug. 26 meeting.