Are students allowed to use phones for academic reasons during resource and study hall?
By Kael Beltmann, Current Staff
Maddie Fell wanted to do her homework, but her teacher said no.
Fell, a West sophomore, had asked to use her phone to access Quizlet, a popular web-based study app, during her resource period. Last year, students at the West Bend High Schools were allowed to use their phones for homework during resource and study hall, but a policy change this year has led to confusion about what’s allowed and what isn’t.
Students were told at the beginning of the school year that cell phones are now prohibited in the learning environment throughout the school day, except during passing time between classes or during lunch periods. Resource time and study hall are considered academic zones, so that means no phones.
“In my resource my teacher says absolutely no phones no matter what, even if she doesn’t have Chromebooks for us to use to do homework,” East sophomore Lauren McCormack said.
However, the student handbook says that phones can be used when “determined necessary” by staff for medical, school, educational, or vocational reasons. That part of the policy is being interpreted by teachers in different ways.
Emma Henry, an East sophomore, says that her resource teacher allows devices for academic reasons, but her study hall teacher doesn’t.
Both West sophomore Madison Gieryn and East sophomore Maren McDonnell say they can use phones in study hall if they ask and say it’s for an academic purpose.
“We have to move to the front row so the teacher can look at our phones to know it’s all academic,” McDonnell said.
So how should the cell phone policy be applied in resource and study hall?
East principal John Graf confirms that phones can be used, but only if the supervising teacher determines it is for an academic reason.
“Resource and study hall are academic learning environments, so it’s no different than a classroom,” Graf said. “We are always looking for, are you using it for an academic purpose and that determination is made by the staff member in the classroom.”
Graf added that the best way for students to use their phones during resource and study hall is to first build up trust with their teacher. If teachers can trust students will use phones for appropriate work, teachers may allow that practice.
(Top image: East junior Scott Harmon sometimes needs his phone during fifth period. Photo taken today by Olivia Langdon, Current Staff.)