Powered Down: City schools shutdown cellphone use on campuses

Cyber bullying, harassment and distractions lead to intervention

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CULLMAN, Ala. – Entering the third week of enforcement of the Cullman City School System’s preexisting cellphone policy has yielded positive results so far, according to Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff.

“To be clear, this isn’t a ban, we’re just enforcing our existing policies on cell phone use in Cullman City Schools during school hours as it impacts instruction,” said Kallhoff. “This approach is in place at all Cullman City Schools, though most relevant and impactful at Cullman High School and Cullman Middle School, where we have adolescent and teenage students.”

On March 21, 2022, an email was sent out to all parents or guardians of students at CMS and CHS by Kallhoff asking for their assistance in controlling the issue of cellphones on campus.

When asked why the ban was being implemented, Kallhoff reiterated that it’s not a ban.

“In an effort to address cyberbullying and harassment through mobile apps such as Yik Yak, administrators and staff have had numerous conversations with students encouraging positivity and kindness. Cell phones, cyberbullying, harassment and a lack of kindness is becoming a distraction on our campuses, especially among our adolescent and young adult students,” he said.

Kallhoff said the distraction was impacting the learning and teaching process, which must stop immediately. 

“So, in an effort to address that, cell phones and electronic devices can now be used prior to the instructional day and after the conclusion of the instructional day. But devices must be turned off, stored and inaccessible during instructional hours unless permission is granted by an authorized school employee,” he said. “Students who drive to school are asked to leave their phones in their vehicles. Younger students, or students who do not drive, are asked to put their cell phones away for the duration of the school day.”

Since the new application of the preexisting policy, Kallhoff said teachers and students have noticed an immediate positive impact.

“This approach is being made in an effort to address cyberbullying and harassment. We’ve actually already seen increased face-to-face social interactions among students, which is great! Like anything, we’ll monitor the situation and make any changes as deemed necessary in the future,” he said.

With enforcement of a new policy or preexisting one regarding cellphones, some parents or students may challenge the validity of the rule citing emergency calls as a necessity for always having the device on. 

Kyleoff was asked about concerned parents or students who may have this particular issue of emergency calls. He assured that there are several ways for a student or parent to contact one another during the school day.

“Of course, as always, parents can reach their student by calling the front office of the school in the event of an emergency,” he said. “Students are also able to call their parents from the front office, as always, if an emergency arises.”

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