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TCAPS Creates New Policy Regarding Technology

Over the summer, TCAPS Board of Education passed policy 5136 regarding technology in schools.
Graphic Credit: S. Van Wingen

  For the 2023-2024 school year, the Traverse City Area Public Schools’ (TCAPS) Board of Education has implemented a new policy, policy 5136, regarding cell phones, airpods, headphones and other personal electronic devices in school. The policy states that for TCAPS’ three high schools, Traverse City West, Traverse City Central, and Traverse City High, cell phones and devices may not be used in classrooms, in the library, in bathrooms or in locker rooms at any time, and that all cell phones and devices must be checked into the classroom cell phone pockets during each class period.

  “In terms of just running a school, I think it’s been better for the adults and for the kids, through the lens of this is a place that is supposed to educate kids, and kids come to school with the intention of participating and learning. Not having your phone on you for 58 minutes at a time, or just during that instructional period, means that there’s less opportunity for someone to send you a message that gets you a really, really easy excuse to hold onto to just miss 10 or 15 minutes of learning,” Olympia principal Andy Wares said.

  In the past, while it was prohibited for students to take out their cell phones during class time, they were allowed to carry their personal devices on them in their backpacks or pockets. This may have tempted students to quickly glance at their phone if they receive a notification and can feel the vibration from it.

  “It makes me not wanna check [my phone] all the time,” junior Harmony Crumley said, referring to the new phone policy.

  Much controversy exists around cell phone usage in general, especially for young and developing brains. Phones are a relatively recent invention that have become a massive part of everyday life, and many people question whether this heavy reliance on electronics that humans now have is actually beneficial.

  “From adults in the building, [to] all of us who grew up before there was this ever-present social media world that students live in, all of us view that whole thing as a little bit strange in the first place. We have some worries about whether it’s healthy or not for young brains, and I think kids don’t even know any different from that,” Wares said.

  Policy 5136 affects both students and staff members, as it is a drastic change and it inflicts a new routine on everyone who works at or attends a TCAPS school. 

  “It gives me more freedom in the classroom as a teacher because I feel like I can let students kind of move around or go out with passes, and I have less concern about what they might be engaging in. I feel like I see academic time being used for academic purposes beginning to end more than in the past,” English teacher Kelly Rintala said.

  The new policy is immensely different from any other phone related rules that TCAPS students have likely experienced in their previous academic years. Similarly, TCAPS staff now must enforce these new regulations and ensure that everybody is following them.

  “We worked as a staff before kids came into the building about how to change routines to help make it part of just what the flow is, and part of my job in that workflow is to count phones, which isn’t super fun, but it is what it is, and so I do it,” Wares said.

  While the policy is a change for everybody at TCAPS, mostly everyone is putting in effort to make it work, and staff members are trying their best to shine light on the benefits of these new changes in the school environment.

  “I think this policy pushes everybody to be doing it the same way which is more effective, so maybe aside from not having sturdy cards in the pockets, and maybe the select few who have been trying to find a loophole, this has worked pretty well. I think any policy that gets students to focus on the learning during class, that’s a good thing,” Rintala said.

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About the Contributor
Samantha VanWingen
Samantha VanWingen, Section Editor, Photographer
Samantha VanWingen is a senior and is taking the newspaper for the first time this year. She chose to take this class because she enjoys writing and has an interest in journalism. Outside of school, Samantha loves to be in nature, whether that’s hiking, biking, skiing, traveling, or simply sitting on the beach.

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