Colorado schools taking more steps to limit cell phones in class

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DENVER -- One Douglas County school is adding its name to list of Colorado schools cracking down on electronic devices in the classroom.

Timber Trails Elementary in Castle Pines sent a letter home to parents informing them that they would be “amending” their electronics policy – now effectively banning smart watches, fitness trackers, portable music devices and personal computers. 

The policy, available on the school’s website, already asks that “students leave cell phones at home,” but allows a concession for some students to keep their phones in backpacks, turned off. 

This is the latest school to move against students and cell phones during the school day. 

Our partners at The Denver Post recently profiled a middle school in Durango that banned cell phones. The principal there reported more-focused and happier students overall. 

Another middle school in Douglas County only allows cell phones to be left in backpacks, which are kept in one classroom away from students for the duration of the school day. 

Other schools have experimented with Yondr, a locked bag for cell phones that high-profile comedians have used during their shows to keep people off of their phones and prevent them from taking pictures or video. 

The biggest argument is that phones are distractions for students.

Former teacher, principal, and college professor Dennis Corash doesn't agree with a ban, but acknowledged that distraction.

"Absolutely, I’ve lived it. As a professor in college classes I’ve walked around and seen my students using cell phones not exactly in the right way," he said.

The Pew Research Center found that in 2015, almost 75 percent of teens had access to a smartphone. 

The other side of that argument comes in the case of an emergency. One parent told Denver7 they would want their child to have access to a smartphone in the case of a school shooting, to be able to call 911 or contact their parents. 

"God forbid something were to happen at my kids school I'd want to know where they’re at, what's going on," they said.

Other parents just want to be able to communicate with their kids on a daily basis. 

"Honestly when I want to get ahold of my children I want them to have it," another parent told Denver7. 

And then there's the argument that cell phones can be useful in the classroom setting. 

"There’s apps out there. There's all kinds of things out there that can be very useful in the classroom," Corash said.

Most local schools fall somewhere in the middle. Their policies allow students to have cell phones and keep them on them, just on silent and not out during class. 

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