If you've got kids in school and your kids have a cell phone, some big changes have been announced by Rochester Public Schools in Minnesota for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.  Below is the letter sent to families as well as an interview with Superintendent of Rochester Public Schools, Kent Pekel, where he explains some of the reasoning behind the changes and some of the specific challenges our schools were dealing with as a result of phones at school.

New Cell Phone Guidelines In Place for Rochester Students for 2022-2023 School Year

A huge concern in schools throughout Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and throughout the United States is cell phone use in classrooms.  That is our world today and kids aren't the only ones who have issues with being distracted by phones.  Adults are guilty as well.  Unfortunately, the issue with phones has gotten out of control in Rochester schools leaving teachers, other staff members, students, and families frustrated.

Victim of Cyber Bullying
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If you missed the letter that was sent out earlier this week to families that explained the new guidelines students are expended to follow, you can read it below:

Dear Rochester Public Schools students and families,

Cell phones and other electronic devices have become part of our everyday lives. More than just a phone, they’ve become our entertainment, our calendar, our clock, our means of staying connected, and more. At Rochester Public Schools (RPS), we understand this. However, phones in schools often become a distraction to the educational environment and can also become targets for theft. RPS students are provided with a school-issued device for daily use in school, and this should be the primary device used by students while at school. RPS discourages students from bringing cell phones, tablets, iPods, and other personal electronic equipment to school.

 

While we discourage phones and other electronic devices for students on campus, we understand that many of our students will continue to bring these devices to school. To minimize the distraction to learning these devices present, and to encourage our students to be safe, respectful, and responsible, RPS has adopted the following guidelines for students.

 

Throughout the school and throughout the day, cell phone usage will be determined by GREEN Zones and RED Zones.

GREEN Zones are times and places when cell phone use is acceptable.

 

RED Zones are times and places when cell phone use is not acceptable and they should be put away, silenced, with notifications turned off.

 

What are the RED Zones at RPS school buildings?

  • Bathrooms/Locker Rooms
  • During class (unless GREEN sign is up)
  • If a staff member asks you to put it away
  • When your teacher has the RED sign up

What are the GREEN Zones at RPS school buildings?

  • Before and after school
  • Cafeteria and Hallways
  • Lunch/Recess/Passing Time
  • Classrooms where the GREEN Zone is posted
Girls busy with cell phones
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What are the consequences if a student doesn't follow the Cell Phone/Electronics Guidelines?

According to the e-mail from Rochester Public Schools, the following will be implemented for students that do not follow the cell phone/electronics guidelines:

  • 1st Instance: The cell phone/electronic device will be turned-in to the teacher and returned by the teacher at the end of the class period.
  • 2nd Instance: The cell phone/electronic device will be turned-in to the teacher and returned at the end of the period by the teacher, who will also contact a parent or guardian.
  • 3rd Instance: The cell phone/electronic device will be turned-in to the teacher and returned at the end of the period by the teacher and the office will be notified as a Level 2 referral for administrative follow-up.
  • 4th Instance: The cell phone/electronic device will be turned-in to the office and will be returned at the end of the school day by a building administrator, who will contact a parent or guardian, and the student will receive a Level 2 referral.
  • 5th Instance: The cell phone/electronic device will be turned-in to the office and returned to a parent or guardian. A building administrator will contact a parent or guardian, the student will receive a Level 2 office referral, and a meeting will be held by administration with the student and a parent or guardian to determine a plan moving forward.

*Student refusal to turn in a device will result in student referral to administration.

Read more at a downloadable version of the guidelines here.

Kim David TSM
Kim David TSM
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Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Provides More Insight on Reason for New Guidelines

I know that the new guidelines are being met with a mixture of emotions in our community.  Some families are happy to see more rules in place and I know of parents that feel like the new guidelines are challenging their rights as parents.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue, I encourage you to take a moment and listen to the interview that Kent Pekel, the Superintendent for Rochester Public Schools, had with Andy Brownell at Townsquare Media regarding the new guidelines, especially if you have questions.  The interview below may answer some of those for you.

What do you think of the new cell phone guidelines for Rochester Public Schools?

Love the change?  Is there a reason why you don't want to see this implemented for your child?  Let me know what you think below or on the Y-105FM Facebook page.  

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