PILSEN — Parents at a Pilsen high school praised and criticized a new policy banning students from using cellphones during the day, with some saying the change would improve the school environment while others said it was a safety hazard.
Benito Juarez Community Academy students will have to check their phones into a locker at the beginning of the school day and retrieve them at the end starting April 25, according to an email to the school community from Principal Juan Carlos Ocon.
“In an effort to address some culture and climate concerns, maximize student engagement, and remove unnecessary distractions, we will not allow the use of cell phones on our campus going forward,” Ocon wrote.
Parents took to social media to discuss the decision. Some wrote the decision was smart and will help reduce student distractions. Others said they were worried about not being able to contact their child in urgent situations.
“That’s so unsafe,” one person wrote on Facebook. “What happens if there’s an emergency and you need help?”
“How do they expect parents to feel comfortable that our kids are safe?” another parent wrote.
Several parents said sometimes school officials can be slow to give parents and guardians updates about what’s going on, so they rely on their kids texting or calling them.
Earlier this year, the school went into lockdown due to shots fired outside the building in the afternoon.
In an email to Block Club, Ocon said parents can call the school’s attendance office if they need to communicate with their child. Ocon also said Juarez is a “one-to-one” school, meaning each student has their own computer to access digital materials during the school day.
Ocon did not answer questions about whether any particular incidents at school led to the cellphone ban.
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