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'Really positive': Phones not allowed during school hours, pilot program to expand

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 16, 2024

Students in 7th and 8th grades at Menominee Area Public Schools are not allowed to use their phones or devices during school hours, and the new policy is set to expand to all grades at the District, the superintendent said.

  • In a new policy, 7th and 8th grade students at Menominee Junior/Senior High School are not allowed to use their phones or devices during school hours.
  • The superintendent says the new policy is going well, and plans to expand the rule to all grades next year.
  • At lunch time "instead of their head down, texting and checking their phones, [students are] talking to each other, and it's been a really positive thing," said Menominee Area Public Schools Superintendent Drew Buyarski.

(The following is a transcript of the broadcast story.)

I'm Jon Erickson in Menominee, Michigan, at the junior-senior high school. And there's a new policy for some grades here: No devices out during hours, period. The superintendent says it's going well so far, and the plan is to expand it to all grades.

"Lunchtime has been kind of really, a big shift," [said Menominee Area Public Schools Superintendent Drew Buyarski]...

"Instead of their head down, texting and checking their phones, they're talking to each other, and it's been a really positive thing."

The new policy that went into effect after spring spring break is for 7th and 8th grades; [during school hours, students are required] to keep their phones in their backpacks or locker.

"We really didn't want this to be a punishment for the kids, we're looking to have the students... take their minds away from checking their notifications... and really be able to focus on, one, academics here at school, and two, basically getting to know their classmates better," [Buyarski said].

Superintendent Buyarski said if there's an emergency, the students still have access to their phones in their lockers.

As far as what led to the policy, he says about 40 percent of behavior issues at school were tied to devices, and this is a chance to give students a break from potential cyber-bullying that can now happen 24/7.

"Giving them that six-to-eight hour break where it's out of sight, out of mind, that's something that can really boost their mental health," [Buyarski said].

Inside Pit Bros. Barbecue in town, co-owner Phillip Cloutier says he has two nephews and a niece at [Menominee Area Public Schools].

I asked him what he thinks of the new rule.

"I'm conflicted on it, I think that parents are going to want to get a hold of their children, but at the same time I think [phones] might be a distraction," [Cloutier said].

For now, the superintendent says the policy is going well and the plan is to expand the policy to the entire district next year, and the superintendent says there are some other local districts that have been reaching out - interested in the policy, too.