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Chicopee schools may expand cell phone locking program to middle schools

Chicopee schools may expand cell phone locking program to middle schools

CHICOPEE — Teachers may join the city’s two middle schools on a program that requires students to lock up their cell phones during the school day.

A year ago, Chicopee High School became the first school in the area to require students to carry their cell phones in a magnetic locking bag called a yonder pouch. Just two months later, Principal Carol Krauser told the school committee that students were experiencing fewer distractions and their grades were improving because they did not have minute-to-minute phone access.

Comprehensive high school administrators jumped on the fall. Administrators said the Yondr program eliminates the constant conflict between teachers and students over cell phones.

“I wanted to bring it up to the board to see if we should be doing this in middle schools,” Douglas Girouard, a school committee member, said Wednesday night. “We can teach kids at an early age so that by the time they reach high school, they are used to the policy.”

Interim Superintendent Alvin Morton said he is working to schedule a meeting with Edward Bellamy Middle School Principal William Holt, DuPont Middle School Principal Jonathan Andelos and school committee member Timothy Wagner to discuss a possible extension.

“I was the public advocate for Yondre Pouch. At this point I think it’s worth taking a serious look at middle schools primarily because of the issues that exist,” said Wagner, who will graduate from high school in 2021. that I’ve heard of.” This can have a positive effect in schools and middle schools.

Middle schools now require students to keep their phones in their lockers during the day. This is not an ideal policy and can be difficult to police, Morton said.

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But he said cell phones are less of a problem in schools than last year. When Krauser proposed the Yondr program, she said teachers are pleading for help as students return to school after more than a year of COVID-19 closures, more addicted to their phones than ever before. Are.

When asked about the inclusion of Chicopee Academy, the city’s small alternative school, Morton said it was not necessary. For years, staff there collected all students’ phones on commencement day, returning them upon dismissal.

Morton thanks Krauser for being the test case in this area for Yondre Pouch. Educators from other Western Massachusetts schools considering the program called and visited Chicopee High to learn more.

The cost of the program varies depending on the size of the school. Morton estimated that outfitting both middle schools with pouches and locking devices would cost between $24,000 and $30,000.

“Startup for Chicopee High was $17,000 to $20,000, but the second year was cheaper,” he said.

The program could be funded through one of several grants, including the roughly $16 million the school has in federal pandemic relief funds that must be spent by 2024. If four schools participate, it may even be able to negotiate a reduction in the cost, he said.

DuPont Middle School has approximately 700 students, while Bellamy is slightly larger at approximately 775 students. In comparison, Chicopee High has about 1,000 students and Comprehensive High has more than 1,200 students.

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