New cell phone policy at Lowell High School prompts pushback from students

LOWELL, Mass. — A policy designed to increase engagement and reduce distractions in the classroom is receiving pushback from some Lowell High School students.

A cell phone policy, which goes into effect Wednesday, would have students turn off their phones upon entering the classroom and placing them in a designated “classroom container,” according to a memo sent to the superintendent’s office last July.

“Our goal is to create a distraction-free learning environment,” the memo reads. “We believe that this policy will not only help students stay on task, but it will also promote a more positive and productive classroom experience.”

However, not everyone is on board. A petition with over 1,200 signatures calls the new policy a security risk.

“We believe this newer, stricter policy was not crafted with the student’s best interest in mind, nor with our safety and security as a consideration, and this policy has been met with widespread opposition from us students,” Kendrick Del Orbe, the creator of the petition wrote. “This is not just an inconvenience; it’s an overt security risk and is a distraction from the real issue in our classrooms; unengaging curriculum and condescending teachers.”

Del Orbe continued in part, saying “LHS students deserve to feel safe, secure, and engaged in our schools, something that will be completely taken from us with this policy. My intent is not to cause an uprising but to advocate for an issue that is being overlooked by the public.”

In response to the petition, a spokesperson for the school district said, “While we applaud the students who oppose the policy for making their voices heard, we urge them to unplug for a while and give the policy a chance to see how it works. This policy will be reviewed at the end of the school year to see of any changes need to be made, but we would like everyone to give it a fair chance before condemning it.”

Shawn Osorio had mixed feelings about the policy when asked by Boston 25 News.

“I feel like cell phones are a distraction, especially in Lowell,” he said. “[But] in a mass shooting you can’t bring a gun into a school but if someone does it what are you gonna do? Especially if you don’t have a cell phone you can’t call for help.”

Christian Barba disagrees with the policy.

“As of now I don’t really think it’s a good idea. I think students should definitely have their phones on them in any sort of situation,” she said.

The policy is not without its supporters. As Mary Logan points out, it would help students be more attentive.

“I think it might be a good idea so that way kids can pay attention more to class rather than focusing more on their social media.”

1,200 Nightlock units were installed over the summer to store the phones. In the event of an active shooter, security units barricade a door through a floor-locking mechanism.

Cellphones, however, are still allowed in hallways during class changing times and in the cafeteria during assigned lunch periods.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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