Park City, MT schools are going "phone free", effective 3/18.

Parents of Park City students surely got the memo regarding a new phone policy, hoping to reduce cell phone distraction and social media conflicts among students. We saw the post on the school's Facebook page, which outlines the new policy, below.

What is the phone policy at your Billings area school?

My kids go to Laurel, where the current rule for middle schoolers is that all phones must go in their lockers. They can check them at lunch and retrieve them when school ends. At LHS, students can reportedly have a phone with them at all times. I assume each teacher may have their personal classroom policy.

Credit Park City Schools, via Facebook
Credit Park City Schools, via Facebook

Park City is using a device called the Yondr bag.

Concertgoers may recognize these relatively simple, locking phone bags. Entertainers who value fans' attention to their show ("Live the moment!") are requiring attendees to lock up their phones if they want to see the performance. Honestly, I feel like that's a reasonable request.

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What about emergencies?

Most of the comments on the Park City School Facebook page were supportive of the new policy. Here are the highlights of the memo.

  • The school owns the bags. The kids are responsible for bringing it to school every day.
  • When they get to school, phones go in the bag and are electronically locked. The student has possession of the bag all day. 
  • Students can check their phones at lunch, and then it goes back into the bag.
  • Parents can call the office to reach their student in an emergency.

Here's an example of how the device works in a school setting.

Screengrab via YouTube/Holyoke Public Schools Media Center
Screengrab via YouTube/Holyoke Public Schools Media Center

If a phone pouch is damaged, or lost, or the student doesn't wish to participate, they must turn their phones into the office for the entirety of the phone-free schedule. Refusal to use the phone bags can elicit fairly strict consequences. According to the memo,

The parent will come to the school and pick up their child's phone. AND/OR Consequences may include: Community Service / In-school detention / Detention

These bags, and similar devices, are becoming popular in schools across the US. Park City School officials said in the post they're implementing the new policy for two reasons: to minimize behavior issues related to social media and to regain lost teaching time due to student inattention because of phones. The school is testing the policy through the end of the 4th quarter and will review it for the 2024-25 school year.

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