Should schools in New York require students to lock their personal electronic devices during the school day? Thanks to one Upstate school district, this is something that very well could roll out statewide in the not so distance future.

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Bethlehem Central School District is located just south of Albany, and on May 3, the school district announced that starting in September, any student in grades 9 through 12 who has a personal electronic device will be required to place it into a locked pouch during the school day.

According to the school district, the students who use the locking magnetic pouches will be able to keep the pouch with their device with them during the school day but will be unable to unlock the pouch until the end of the day when they can visit one of the several unlocking stations located in the high school.

Obviously, the idea of locking up personal electronic devices has received mixed reactions. Some think that it's a wonderful idea while others aren't crazy about the decision of the school district.

Superintendent Monroe said, “We have been looking for an effective solution to cell phone distractions in the academic environment. We believe the Yondr pouches will eliminate those distractions and improve peer-to-peer relationships..."

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On the other hand, one parent who wished to remain anonymous told Townsquare Media that she hated the idea of her 10th grader not being able to access her cell phone should an unthinkable emergency arise. The mom explained that she feels a sense of relief that if anything catastrophic happens during the school day, she knows that her child can get in touch with her immediately instead of having to hear of the trouble from the school alert system but that will change next school year.

The district has a plan for that, too though saying that every classroom has a phone that can call 911. The district also noted that students and staff practice lockdown drills four times a year and that there are specific instructions on remaining silent and that the district has a special notification plan.

The Bethlehem Central School District says that any student who is able to provide documented medical issues, such as the need to monitor their blood sugar levels, will be allowed to place their device inside a velcro pouch so that they can access their phone immediately,

According to the Bethlehem Central School District, the cost for 1,400 magnetic locking pouches is $26,773 for the 2023-2024 school year. Included in that cost are staff training, the locking stations, and upgrades when needed.

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