BRIGHAM CITY — In an effort to save text for books and repartees for recess, the Box Elder School District has instituted a policy against pagers and cell phones.
The new policy specifies "pagers and cellular phones shall not be used in class or in any other way that disrupts the educational environment. Teachers and administrators may confiscate pagers and cellular phones that are used inappropriately."
School board members cited concerns about students using text messaging and Internet connections to cheat on tests, and the possibility of camera phones being used to violate privacy in locker rooms.
"Really, (cell phones) are just distracting," said Mary Kay Kirkland, assistant superintendent over curriculum. "A lot of times cell phones have games on them and they just take away from the other things that are going on at school.
"I don't think saying kids can't have cell phones at all is the answer, but there needed to be something in the policy to address their use," she said.
Students had mixed feelings about the new policy and the board's rationale.
Tom Anderson, a 17-year-old who will be a senior at Box Elder High School in the fall, said he often sees people cheat on tests with calculators, but hasn't ever seen it with a cell phone.
"It would probably take too long," he said. "It wouldn't be worth it."
Still, Anderson said he didn't think having cell phones in school was necessary.
"You can talk to people when you see them; you don't need to call your friends in class."
Tianna Davis, a 12-year-old who will be a seventh-grader at Adele C. Young Intermediate School in the fall, has had a cell phone for about four months.
Davis said she likes to use text messaging to avoid eating up minutes, and hasn't ever seen anyone use a phone for cheating.
"It could happen, though, I guess," she said.
However, she said she didn't believe camera phones were a real threat to privacy in locker rooms.
Other school districts in northern Utah have similar policies in place.
Davis School District allows students to have cell phones and pagers as long as they're not used during class. Students who use them inappropriately face suspensions.
Weber School District has no official policy specifically targeting cell phones, and instead asks schools to make decisions at their level with input from staff, patrons and students.
Ogden School District policy states that "beepers or cellular phones are disruptive to the school environment, and unless there are extenuating circumstances (and preapproved by the building administrator), these electronic devices are to be kept off during instructional periods."