Students in Torrington will soon have their phones locked up at school.
The district is among the first in the state to launch a unique effort to cut down on cell phone use.
“I was upset. I was frustrated,” said sophomore Elise Petro.
Some students are feeling like their concerns weren’t fully heard at a Torrington school board meeting on Wednesday.
The board voted to start a new program aimed at blocking cell phone use at the high school and middle school.
“It is a problem. I just don’t think Yondr pouches are the way to go,” said sophomore Leah Fosbrook.
On Yondr’s website, it explains how this plan would work. Students receive a pouch and put their cell phone in it.
It magnetically locks with a device set up at the school entrance, which can also unlock it when the student leaves at the end of the day.
The company said it’s already being used at hundreds of schools nationwide.
“All the schools I’ve talked to, grades have gone up, discipline has gone down, culture in the school has become better. So we are the place we feel we have to try something. We just can’t keep complaining about cell phones,” said Fiona Cappabianca, school board chairperson.
Cappabianca said this is a way to take the burden of enforcement off of teachers, as well as cut down on cheating and bullying.
A Yondr representative responded to concerns about parents trying to reach their kids during a crisis.
“Although it might be counterintuitive to a parent it is actually safer that students do not have phones accessible during an emergency so they can pay attention and get to safety,” said Benji Spanier from Yondr.
Students we talked with think there are benefits to having phones accessible at school and that instead of a new, fancy system staff should do a better job of enforcing the rules that are already in place.
“I feel like we should try implementing more before we go, this feels like we are going from zero to 100 really fast,” said Fosbrook.
The hope is this new program will be up and running after April break. We’re told a grant will cover the contract which costs about $60,000 and runs through the end of the next school year.