Marietta City Schools board votes unanimously to ban cellphones in school

Marietta City Schools officials made an important decision regarding cellphones in schools. The board voted unanimously, 7-0, to ban cellphones for middle school students.

"We really want kids to be focused on learning," said Superintendent Grant Rivera in a statement. "Cellphones, smartwatches, and social media have significant impacts on our students' learning and mental health. School should be a place to learn and grow; that can't happen if students are distracted by their phones."

Marietta City Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera says cellphones have a significant impact on student's ability to learn, as well as on their overall health. He says cell phones and smartwatches should be off limits for students at Marietta Sixth Grade Academy and Marietta Middle School.

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Marietta City Schools cellphone ban will be put to a vote on June 18, 2024.

"We want to eliminate the cellphones. Therefore, kids can focus on learning. But it's also about social media. I don't want kids defining their value based on a Snapchat or Instagram filter," said Rivera.

The Marietta School Board chair echos those sentiments.

Parents support cellphone ban at Marietta schools

"We are totally for the idea of removing phones from classrooms," said Kayla Sargent, who has a child about to enter sixth grade and another rising to eighth grade. "Teachers need a distraction free environment—kids need a bullying-free environment."

"Too much exposure to cellphones, social media is distracting," Sargent added. 

With the passing of the ban, students will now be expected to place their phones and smartwatches in a lockable Yondr pouch when they enter the building during the upcoming school year.

The pouches lock through a magnetic system that prevents the devices from being used until the pouches unlock at the end of the school day.

At the end of the day, the teacher will unlock the pouches.

"Excellent idea," said Jeff Hubbard, President of the Cobb County Association of Educators. "They are more interested in TikTok and Instagram than they are paying attention during lessons." 

Hubbard said many students have become addicted. He believes the move will help minimize distractions and reduce the impact on the brain's development and emotional help. He adds that the new policy will also help improve learning and decrease disciplinary problems.

"It’s going to get back to just good old-fashioned back-to-school teaching, learning, listening, taking notes, asking questions, being engaged," he said.

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Marietta City Schools cellphone ban will be put to a vote on June 18, 2024.

Some parents embrace the idea of no-cellphones in school.

"I just think it's another barrier to their own education, whether they realize it or not, at that age. I just think it would enhance learning without having that easy access distraction," said Lauren Chetty.

Others say phones should be restricted, but not banned entirely, in case of an emergency.

"With everything with safety in school nowadays, it makes me really nervous to think that if something did happen at school, my student couldn't call 911 if they didn't have a cellphone on them. That's my main concern with it," said Ashley VanDyke.

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Marietta City Schools cellphone ban will be put to a vote on June 18, 2024.

"The natural desire for families to be able to reach their child in an emergency is real. So in Marietta, we've come up with a system where teachers will be able to unlock cellphone pouches in classrooms in the event of an emergency. Do we expect that to happen? No. Are we prepared for it? Absolutely," said Rivera.

The initiative is expected to go into effect on Aug. 1.