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Teachers, parents react to first day of school cell phone ban lift

Many students were allowed to bring their cell phones into school buildings Monday, marking the end of a longtime city policy that had grown increasingly unpopular among parents, students, and even some teachers.

After Mayor Bill de Blasio’s January announcement, principals were tasked with coming up with rules for how cell phones could be used in their schools, with some deciding to collect students’ phones as they entered the building.

We asked our readers if they agreed with the policy change, and whether the new rule would alter classroom environments. Here’s some of what we heard:

Therese Johnson, an English teacher at Staten Island Technical High School:

“My Dean’s will now spend all of their time investigating theft of cell phones. Most parents and students will not take the time to understand the new policy and will try to hold us accountable for missing items of value.”

Staten Island Technical students are allowed to bring their phones into the building, but they must remain off and away, Johnson said on Chalkbeat New York’s Facebook page. The school’s new policy was announced with a letter, phone messenger and upcoming contract to be signed by parents.

“The problem is that since the mayor made the announcement we have had parents and students say that they ‘can’t wait to be allowed to bring their phones.’ They read the headlines, but not the fine print. We will have to have many conversations about what the plan really is. And we were super careful with our letter so that parents know we aren’t responsible for lost/stolen phones. But I’m afraid that won’t matter and this whole thing will just be another headache for us. And a distraction from more important things!”

Robert Cintron, teacher at Queens Vocational and Technical High School: 

“It’s a mess. Just gonna lead to more distractions and theft.”

Rachel Leinweber, parent at New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math High School:

“The kids have been allowed to have the phones all along, with the caveat that they need to watch when and where they take it out or have it on. Rules were enforced ad hoc, depending mostly on the moods of various administrators from one day or week to another.”