Students and teachers share mixed feelings on the new FCPS phone policy


Neha Shetwal

Daanya Saraff, an eighth grade student on the Discovery team, keeps her phone in her locker prior to the beginning of the school day.

As of the 2022-2023 school year, FCPS has enforced a new, harsher, policy regarding cell phone use in schools, which is being met by the mixed feelings of both students and teachers.

This year’s new phone policy states that students are prohibited from using any electronic devices other than their laptops during school hours, using a three-strike system. The first time a student is found using a phone, they will receive a verbal warning and be sent to put the device in their locker. The second time, the student’s teacher will write a referral. The third  time a student is found with their phone, they will be sent to discuss with the administration.

“I understand why they are doing it,” said Riva Dehadaraya, an eighth-grade student on the Explorers team. “Phones can be really distracting and don’t have any uses in school.”

Some students, however, disagree about the necessity of having a phone during school hours.

“It makes me feel safer and more confident to have my phone with me,” said Sharani Chebrolu, an eighth-grader on the Explorers team. “I would like to have my phone so I can feel more comfortable.”

Teachers have varying opinions from the students concerning the new phone policy as well.

“I can’t compete with the cell phone,” said Mrs. Carmen Johnson-Donald, a teacher on the Explorers team. “It doesn’t matter how good the lesson is; the cell phone has a strong pull to everyone and it distracts them.”

Over 78% of middle schools and high schools in the country restrict cell phone use during classes, according to a nationwide survey. Despite this, many students do not think that having a cell phone with them would be an impediment to their learning experience or the classroom environment. 

“No, I don’t think it [my phone] would be a distraction,” said Chiara Mpanu, a seventh-grader on the Dream Team. “I could use it once I am done with work or not use it all.”

In years previous, the far more lenient phone policy has led to many disturbances in the classroom. Additionally, research reviews have proven that smartphones do have a drastic effect on a student’s academic performance.

“I have had students texting each other in class,” said Mrs. Johnson-Donald. “When one student gets a notification, it disturbs the whole class.”

As the first quarter closes, the phone policy has been met with feedback from students.

“People have become too attached to their phones,” said Riva Dehadaraya, a student on the Explorers team. “I still see people with their phones.”

On the contrary, the new policy has gotten mainly positive feedback from the teachers. 

“I haven’t really had to tell anyone to put their phone away this year,” said Mrs. Johnson-Donald. “I think it’s working well.”

FCPS plans on keeping this new policy for future years due to the overall positive response it has received from the staff. However, many are willing to make revisions to lessen its intensity.

“I’d be fine with students checking their phones between classes,” said Mrs. Johnson-Donald. 

Overall, the new phone policy has been met with mixed feedback from students, many of whom are unsure what the ideal rule would be.

“Many people are distracted by their phones, but phones are something that makes us feel safer,” Sharani said. “I can’t say for sure what they should do.”