As easy as “Off/Away”

Kai Kang

Students return to find new cellphone policy in place.Image

Traditionally, if a phone rings in class, it's taken by the teacher. But nowadays cell phones don’t have to ring to operate. Cell phones are becoming more like computers, and to top it off, teens have learned to hide them better while using them in class. To catch up, MVHS cell phone policies have become stricter. Meet the new “Off/Away” policy.
The “Off/Away” policy is different compared to last year's policy because teachers can now confiscate any cell phone they see or hear during class, regardless of whether it's on or off. The teacher documents who the cell phone belongs to and then hands it over to the administration. At the end of the school day, only parents can retrieve their student's phone.

According to Principal April Scott, the policy has become stricter for important reasons. Not only have cell phones become highly advanced, but incidents have also urged the administration to take action. One incident, for example, was when students were found taking pictures of tests prior to the test dates by taking advantage of camera phones – something widely available to students. Also, there have been past incidents where students used their camera phones to take pictures or recordings of teachers and posted them on the internet.

As stressed by Paul Cheng, Associate Superintendent of the Administrative Services at FUHSD, students can be held legally accountable for taking pictures or recordings of people on campus without their knowledge or consent. Teachers especially, by California Education Code and teacher contract, cannot have their picture or video taken without expressed permission.

The term “Off/Away” at MVHS was adopted from Cupertino High School, which has been using it since last year. Being composed of two words that every teen knows, it is easy to understand and to put as signs in classrooms. This eliminates an array of excuses that students may concoct to avoid confiscation of their cell phones.

According to Scott, the teachers are thrilled because the new policy simplifies enforcement. Teachers no longer need to worry about what to do with a confiscated cell phone and keep track of cumulative offenses, as opposed to previous years.

“That, I think, allows them to focus on why they are in a classroom,” Scott said. “They are in a classroom to teach. They are not in the classroom to be reminding students to turn phones off and put them away.”