SAN DIEGO – At the San Diego Independent School District, students in all three campus will be required to put their cells phones into a Yondr pouch, starting the first day of school.
Students will enter their homeroom class and be presented with a gray and green pouch to slip in their smartphones and lock them up. Once the phone is turned off and put into the pouch, it snaps shut and locked like the security tags found on clothing at department stores. The pouch stays with the student and can only be unlocked with a special device.
“The drive behind the product is more student engagement in the classroom and less distractions,” said SDISD Superintendent Dr. Sam Bueno. “At the elementary and junior high school levels, once they put the phone in the pouch it stays in the pouch all day long and at the end of the day they can access their phones, check their meessages, call parents or whatever it is they need to do. If there's an emergency throughout the school day, every teacher will have an unlocking device.”
High School students, who are turning into responsible young adults, will be able to access their devices during lunch hour, he said.
School rules still apply and inapproriate behavior can result in the confiscation of phones.
How did the concept come to SDISD?
Superintendent Dr. Sam Bueno was at a Jack White concert with about 10,000 people. Anyone with a cell phone was required to use the Yondr cell phone pouch. When he learned what the Yondr cell phone pouch was about he began to wonder if the same product could benefit the students.
Dr. Bueno took the product before a committee made up of community and school district members and pilot the idea with summer students.
The high school student advisory board came back with positive feedback with less distraction and more time focused on their school work. Dr. Bueno then went before the school board, who approved the device.
“The school board felt the need to address the cell phone issue, not only at the student level, but also at the adult level,” Bueno stated. “Administration will lead by example.”
The district will purchase more than 1,000 pouches and unlocking devices for a total cost of $13,000. The monies for the products will come from the general fund, he said.
Because the pouch is school issued, just like a textbook, the student is allowed to use them at no cost. However, if the pouch is lost or destroyed the students will pay $30 to replace.
The University of Texas at Austin concluded that 'the mere presence of cell phones reduces available cognitive capacity,' according to a letter given to parents from Dr. Bueno.
Cell phones at the district have become a big problem in classrooms, Bueno said, which can become a distraction with instructional time.
Not only will the students be less distracted but there is a safety issue that the pouches can also tackle.
Cell phones bring a significant amount of unwanted and inappropriate behavior to the district. The school, like all schools, have a bullying issue, which is expected to decrease during school hours.
Unfortunately, the nation has been plagued with many active shooter scenarios causing school districts to think of what may happen. The Yondr pouch will be a tool that can help with different safety scenarios.
During the last school year, SDISD had three official bomb threats reported.
“In a real lockdown situation every teacher is to use their professional judgement and can say 'I don't have a communication device let's take out our phones,” Bueno stated.
The pouches will be a significant change for third grade students and up, who will need some time to adjust.