Dear WSD Administrators, Employees and Parents/Guardians,
As you likely know, Governor Cox recently issued a letter to school and district leaders, requesting that cell phone use be disallowed in classrooms. I've provided the Governor's Letter and resources he provided (attached). We fully support the thoughtful consideration of the Governor's request, but want to ensure that our school leaders engage in discussions with the educators, parents/guardians, Community Councils, PTAs and student leaders in their school community before "hard and fast" school policies are enacted which ban cell phones in the classroom. Gleaning stakeholder input is essential. Some of our schools have already created policies which restrict cell phones in learning spaces/classrooms. These schools enacted a very intentional process, and involved stakeholders in that process, prior to the determination to implement such policies. A very important piece to consider is how student discipline related to cell phones should/will be managed.
At the district level, leaders are engaged in discussions related to the cell phone issues we are seeing in our schools. Our district's secondary and elementary leadership, along with our policy committee, will provide guidance and support to our schools as we create a more formal determination of how cell phones will be managed in all our schools. Research studies have well documented the fact that cell phone usage is impacting the social connections, mental/emotional health, self-regulating behaviors, brain development and functioning, and learning and achievement in our young people. The rise in cyberbullying incidents directly impact our students' perception of a "safe and healthy" school environment.
Many teachers are reporting that they cannot manage the "distractions" created by cell phones and disengagement they observe in their students with access to these devices in learning environments. Their jobs are to educate and inspire, not manage the cell phone usage of their students. Some educators are reporting a weariness and diminishing job satisfaction level due to having to constantly intervene and redirect students related to cell phones. The management of cell phones in the learning environment requires a great amount of time and effort by school personnel. There is no doubt that this time and effort could be more productively utilized to directly support learning and forge positive connections with students.
The members of our Board of Education are fully committed to mitigating the negative impact that cell phones and social media are having on children's emotional and mental health. Weber School District joined other Utah districts in legal action aimed at holding large social media platforms accountable for the mental/emotional effects we are seeing in our children. As a district, we are fully engaged in the process of determining next steps and policy decisions related to Governor Cox's imperative.
We welcome your feedback concerning cell phones in the classroom! We encourage you to reach out to your school leaders to share your perspectives and input.
Gina Butters, Superintendent
Clyde Moore, Assistant Superintendent
Dave Hales, Assistant Superintendent
Brock Mitchell, Director
Matt Williams, Assistant Director
Mary Jo Williams, Director
Kirt Swalberg, Assistant Director