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Local middle school changes cellphone policy for new school year

Eagerness fills the Sandcreek Middle School hallways in Bonneville School District 93 Wednesday.

“We’re really excited,” said Dr. Yvonne Thurber, the school principal. “We’re really excited to have the kids back.”

As incoming seventh and eighth graders get registered for the new year, teachers and staff get ready to roll out the school’s new cellphone policy.

“We’re asking students to leave their cellphones in their backpacks and closed in their lockers,” Thurber said.

This rule piggybacks off of the school’s previous cellphone policy, where students were asked not use cellphones during class. For the new school year, that rule includes no cellphone use during lunchtime as well.

“We’re going to provide some activities for them to do during lunch,” Thurber said. “We’d like our kids to make eye contact with one another instead of just staring at their cellphones.”

Thurber said that she has noticed an increase in screen time among kids.

“We’re seeing that it’s impacting (students) socially, we’re seeing that it is impacting them emotionally and what they see online isn’t always realistic,” Thurber said.

It is not just staff ready for the break in screen time, parents are all for the cellphone free school year.

“I love it,” said Jenny Preece, a mother of a Sandcreek Middle School student.” Love it, love it, love it.”

“I think it is great,” said Natalie Burr, another parent. “I think that there are other ways teachers can engage kids without necessarily using technology.”

Some parents say that their teens having that cellphone and using social media contributes to their anxiety and stress.

“It’s the comparison inferior complex that you get from Instagram and sometimes I get sucked into it as an adult,” Preece said.

Surprisingly, some students are ready to see that change in cellphones at lunch.

“Last year, people would go into the commons and just play and play and do nothing else,” said eighth-grader Sam Emfield.

“It is going to help us be able to branch out and make more friends and be more (social) and get to know people more.” added eighth-grader, Kaleb Chatelain.

To make things fair, teachers and staff will also play by the same rules.

“With the adults doing it too, we’re going to model that behavior,” Thurber said. “We’re all going to make mistakes. I anticipate making a mistake on my own, but I’m excited.”

To help students and parents better understand the new policy, the school will show the movie Screenagers. It will be shown at the Sandcreek Middle School’s open house on Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

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