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Teachers respond to bag, phone policies at Scranton School District

Put your phones away. That’s the message to students in the Scranton School District after new restrictions on electronic devices and bags on school grounds.

SCRANTON, Pa. — It was the first chance for parents and students make their voices heard after the Scranton School District announced plans to remove students’ personal electronic devices from school grounds and require clear bags, but Tuesday night’s meeting was lightly attended, with only a handful of teachers speaking up.

No phones, no tablets, no electronics of any kind. That’s the newly announced policy at Scranton School District.

School officials point out the disruption those devices cause in the classroom, saying they can also help students cheat. Teachers said while phones are a family lifeline, they can also cause problems.

"As an itinerant teacher, I travel to our elementary and middle schools to meet my students, and I definitely have noticed these two policies not being enforced," said Patricia Clark.

While the district said it will provide appropriate electronic devices needed for instruction, students at the intermediate and high school level must keep any personal electronic devices in their locker. 

Elementary schoolers have to keep any devices in a backpack. Teachers noted that could be an issue.

"Fix the lockers," Clark said. "Students are required to leave their bookbags in their assigned lockers, cellphones are to be left there too, but too often in broken, unlocked lockers. This is why I think many students hesitate to leave their valuable items in their lockers."

Another big decision for the district, all bags and backpacks students carry must be clear. Given the recent crimes just outside school grounds, teachers suggest the change is necessary.

"Every single adult in this district needs to be on the same page to protect our students," said Holly Meade. "Most importantly, we need the help of our student's caregivers, whether that be their grandparents, their aunts, their uncles, their foster parents, their parents, their neighbors, even local business owners, helping us to solve this problem."

"I pray our new policies change life inside our school buildings," Clark added.

The device restriction extends to electronics like wireless headphones, smartwatches, cameras, and e-readers. This all applies on the bus, too. 

The new policies are set to go into effect at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. Students return to class in a little more than a month.

Coming soon to WNEP’s YouTube channel.  

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