The Norwich City School District (NCSD) is gearing up for the upcoming school year with a new initiative that will see student cell phone use restricted through the introduction of a phone-free program called Yondr. This program will store student’s media devices from the time of school arrival until dismissal.

Yondr pouches will be allocated to each student at the start of the 2024 school year, providing a secure location for phones, earbuds, and smartwatches to be locked away during the school day. Although the pouches are considered school property, students will manage their possession of the pouches at all times.

Read More: New York May Ban Smartphones in Your Kid’s School

NCSD Superintendent Scott Ryan emphasized the prevalent reliance on smartphones among both students and adults. "What we know to be true is that smartphones have created incredible dependency among students and adults," said Ryan. "Our students are communicating predicted anxiety of not having constant access to their smartphones, which, is to be expected."

Acknowledging the transition to a phone-free environment as an adjustment for students, Ryan also emphasized the motivations behind this move. "We are determined to enhance student engagement, academic performance, social connection, and overall student safety and well-being," he stated. The policy will be enforced within grades 6 through 12 and aims to reduce the distractions posed by smartphones, allowing educators to maximize student academic engagement.

Ryan also emphasized the critical skill of social competence in today's workplace and the responsibility of the school in preparing students for a "future-ready" environment. He assured that student input will be sought through ongoing conversations and feedback sessions, with a shared goal of creating a cell phone-free environment.

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This new policy marks a significant shift in the approach to student cell phone use within the Norwich City School District and is designed to create an environment that promotes academic focus, social interaction, and overall student well-being.

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