New West Cell Phone Policy Requires Students to Store Phones During Class


Jenna White and Olivia Watters

Students were asked to place their cell phones in hanging wall caddies at the start of each hour on Tuesday January 24th. The cell phones remain in the caddie unless the teacher instructs students otherwise. 

Tuesday, January 19th, teachers and administrators agreed to implement a new school policy, thinking it would increase student’s focus in class.

For weeks, there had been discussions regarding a new cell phone policy, and has now been officially changed. Students have varying feelings about the new policy.

“I don’t mind the new policy. It seems like people are more engaged in class,” said Junior Moses Long.

Other students think the policy has some downsides. “The worst part is not physically holding my phone, and having it on my person. It’s very anxiety inducing. It’s so bad,” says Junior Carter Gifford.

Beginning on Tuesday, January 24th, all students will place their phones in cell phone caddies at the beginning of each class. The cell phones will remain in the caddie unless the teacher has given students to use their phones as part of the educational experience. 

Many teachers have grown increasingly frustrated with students’ inability to regulate their cell phone use and teachers having to remind students to manage their cell phones. Students and teachers have disagreed with the current cell phone policy at West. Many students do not follow the policy and staff members feel a stricter policy should be enforced. 

 “In my observations, if I had to stop and address phones being out in every class period, I would have to stop class about 15 times. It’s the biggest waste of my time and a waste of the student’s time. It’s impacting the student’s learning and it doesn’t help anything when you involve social media and the fights.” said Mateske. 

Mateske talks about phones being a distraction to student’s learning, and wanted to change the policy so that student’s focus in class increases. 

However, many students do not agree with Mateske. According to a 10 question survey sent to students at West, 70.4% of students believe that cell phones do not disrupt their learning experience.

“I feel that we as high schoolers should be able to focus on our learning and be able to use our phones when it is a proper time with respect to our schoolwork,” said Junior Anna Connolly.

Based on the student survey, 58.4% of students feel that they do not spend too much time on their phone daily. It is used as a resource by many students, and is necessary for keeping track of notes and homework. 

“A lot of the time my phone actually helps me with my schoolwork for a calculator or taking pictures of important slides during a lecture, so I think that the new policy is not one that will positively impact our school,” said sophomore Alanis Courseault.

Though a majority of students feel their phones are not disruptive, other students feel that they are. 

“I think phones disrupt learning because when I’m in class and a teacher is teaching, I’m just thinking about what is happening on my phone, which doesn’t allow me to fully understand things in class. I feel a stricter policy would help because we’re at school to learn so we should learn instead of worrying about our phones.” said Freshman Cayden Parker. 

There have been many meetings in regards to cell phones. The BLT or “Building leadership team” is a collection of 8-12 teachers who meet with the Tosa West administration on a biweekly basis to provide administration with feedback on issues and policies.  These meetings discuss numerous topics from professional development needs to solutions to tardies and fights.  Student management of cell phones has been a regular topic of conversation and has been an issue teachers and administrators have been discussing since the beginning of the year. Because of the phones disrupting class time, the BLT collaborated to change Tosa West’s policy. Some teachers feel that changing the policy has become the only way to keep students engaged in class. 

After calling many schools across southeastern Wisconsin, it was determined that many schools across Wisconsin have similar policies. Brookfield East, Brookfield Central, and Nicolet High School all use cell phone caddies, and phones are not allowed in bathrooms. However, they are allowed during study halls, passing time, and lunch periods.

“I do not believe that we should have a stricter phone policy, I feel that we as high schoolers should be able to focus on our learning and be able to use our phones when it is a proper time with respect to our schoolwork,” said Connolly.

Based on a survey sent to Tosa West staff members, 95% of them strongly believe that West needs to implement a stricter policy.

“Students who struggle in school are disproportionately affected by their phones- those who are having the hardest time understanding are most always the first ones to pick up a distraction- whether it’s their phone or something else. We have to protect those students from that natural tendency and help our kids feel more confident in the zone of discomfort. Creating a phone policy is a large factor in how I think we need to do that.” said an anonymous staff member.