CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — More schools are looking to control phone use in the classroom, some in our area are now turning to Yondr: a company that offers magnetic pouches to lock phones away.

Schoharie Central School District Superintendent Dave Blanchard said that changing their phone policy made a difference in learning. “Seeing students in classrooms, engaged in learning, socializing during downtime, socializing in the cafeteria,” he said. “Yondr and the distraction free approach is a game changer for education.” 

The district implemented Yondr pouches last academic year as a way to eliminate distractions and improve the learning environment. Blanchard said students put their phones, smart watches and other devices into the pouch at the beginning of each day, unlocking them at the exits to the school building when they leave.

He said the new policy did not come without challenges. “Having deeper more meaningful relationships as a result of not relying on social media and the nuance of a cellphone is a challenging concept for a well-developed brain, an adult,” Blanchard said. “But, when you give that power to an adolescent, that is really challenging for education.” 

When it comes to safety concerns and maintaining contact with your children throughout the school day, Blanchard said the absence of phones can help keep kids safer. “Our SRO and our safety plan is not incumbent on students having cell phones so in the event of an emergency situation, we want students listening to the adults and not paying attention to their phones,” he said. “I think this approach creates a safer environment for kids.”

Blanchard said he believes other districts should follow suit. Some, like Bethlehem Central School District, are doing just that beginning this year for their high school. The district did not have anyone available to speak, but directed us to their FAQ page which addresses purpose, safety and how parents can reach their children during the school day. One answer explained zero-tolerance policies were difficult to enforce and take away from classroom time.