Limited cellphone usage is now permitted at Dorchester District Two high schools.
During DD2’s board meeting July 28 board members passed the second and final reading of the new policy that allows high school students to use their cellphones at specific times during the day.
The policy grants students permission to use their cellphones before 7:25 a.m., during class exchanges, during assigned lunch periods and after 2:55 p.m., unless in an after-school class or detention. Board members voted in favor with one member absent.
The vote came after Chairwoman Gail Hughes asked the three high school principals about their experience implementing cellphone usage. Hughes asked the principals how they make sure students do not cheat using the phones.
Ashley Ridge High School Principal Karen Radcliffe said it is all about classroom management and awareness.
“In any kind of testing, quizzing, project-type situation it’s about classroom awareness,” she said.
“It’s about moving around and letting kids know exactly what you’re doing. It’s any kind of prevention of cheating – it’s just being aware of the surroundings in that classroom at all times.”
Hughes also asked about the part of the policy that allows students to use their cellphones during class exchanges, and whether that causes students to be late to class.
Fort Dorchester High School Principal Bert Postell said he has not seen any increase in tardies.
“Mainly where you see them use them is in the cafeteria, when they’re sitting in there for lunch and they have some time to kill,” he said. “You don’t see cellphones in the hall, hardly at all.”
Hughes said she has been to several technology conventions and is aware cellphones are being used in different areas as a learning tool, and asked the principals if they ever see this as the beginning of implementing cellphones as a learning tool.
Director of High Schools Elena Furnari said right now DD2 does not have the infrastructure for educational purposes with cellphones.
“That is definitely our goal for the future,” she said.
Superintendent Joe Pye reported that the district recently met with middle school principals to see how they felt about extending the policy to the district’s middle schools. Furnari said those principals decided they would like to look more into it and not make that decision yet.
“They want to examine some more things and see how it would best be suited at the middle level,” she said.
Hughes said she thinks the new policy is something that could definitely benefit the district.
“As long as we have good management tools in place I think this is a win-win,” she said.