RHS students, teachers have mixed opinions about new cell phone policy

Students wonder if enforcement will continue.


Photo by Tali Yakopson

Phone jail in Rebekah Leonardy’s classroom for students using their phone in class.

Days before winter break, the teachers of Rogers High School received an email regarding a new cell phone policy for the school, becoming the last high school in the Puyallup School District (PSD) to adopt a phone policy for the 2022-2023 school year. The policy contains a four-strike system that was implemented the first day back from break, January 3.

Cell phone regulations are not new to Rogers, nor the PSD. Previous plans have been successful in the past, leading up to the quarantine time period. After students returned to in-person school, cell phones were not seen as a major priority and ignored until recently, where teachers began to notice a much stronger attachment between students and their cell phones. This ultimately led to the push for the current policy.

However, because the policy is being established in early January, the late implementation brings up worries in teachers about how well the policy will work. AP English teacher Rebekah Leonardy and history teacher Jamie Smith share similar doubtful thoughts.

“There have never really been good results trying to implement a new plan halfway through the school year,”   Leonardy said. “I’m concerned about how effective it’s going to be.”

Likewise, Smith shares that the policy would’ve been easier to adjust to if it was not brought up halfway through the year.

Within the student body, the date of the policy is not the issue, it’s how well the policy will be enforced down the road. Junior Ella Collins is the daughter of athletic director Peter Collins. She recalled how her dad used to tell her about the strict tardy slip policy towards the beginning of the year (teachers would hand out slips to anyone not in class after the bell rang, and a certain amount of slips would add up to a detention).

When asked if he still brings this up Ella Collins replied, “Not really. I’m not sure if the teachers do that anymore.”

Students in the journalism classroom also acknowledged that they’ve stopped seeing late students receive detentions despite continued tardies (although tardies seem to have partially resumed starting January 11th).  Due to this year’s previous poorly enforced policies, students wonder how long their phones will truly be regulated and if they will actually face punishments listed in the policy such as phone calls home, office referrals, and suspensions.

Finally, students and teachers have mixed opinions on whether the policy should be abolished or not.

Students and teachers both understand why the policy came to be and neither group questions the motive for the regulations. Leonardy, an advocate for the policy despite the January implementation sees students in her classes using phones for things ranging from phone games, to cheating on assignments directly in front of her. To Leonardy and many other teachers, the phone regulations were a clear must and must remain.

Teachers across RHS received posters to show students when it is OK to be on their devices.

On the other hand, students (and a few other teachers) tend to support getting rid of the policy completely in favor of replacing it with teacher phone rules, specific to individual classrooms.

AP calculus teacher Todd Wilber told his class the first day back from break that he is indifferent about the new policy as he doesn’t mind the use of cellphones during independent work time.

Wilber’s student, junior Julia Bontemps, said, “not all teachers will enforce the policy equally and in the same ways, so an umbrella policy doesn’t really work for the school in my opinion.”

Leonardy understands that some teachers allow students to work with their phone in classes, but believes that “it sends the message that it’s okay to do that in every class and it’s not.”

Despite these differences in opinion only the future can determine the true outcome of this new policy.