Something unusual is happening in Dolores schools.
When secondary school Principal Jenifer Hufman walks around at recess and lunch, kids are talking to one another and playing together instead staring at smartphones.
This year, the district prohibited students from using cellphones on campus, an idea borrowed from Mancos School District RE-6.
And Hufman said staff have seen positive results.
“Kids are interacting more and are not distracted by social media pressure during the day,” she said. “We’ve heard from students that it’s relief for them to get away from their phones.”
Since the ban started, there have also been no reports of cyberbullying or phone harassment, said Kaylee Green, school resource officer.
“By this time last year, we had already had five or six reports of students having problems related to social media posts from phones,” she said. “I’m seeing more socializing now, more face-to-face resolution of problems instead of communicating and reacting through a phone screen. It’s fantastic.”
Under the ban, students may possess a phone but must turn it off and keep it in their backpack or locker.
“The staff loves it, too, because they are tired of fighting the cellphone battle with students,” Hufman said. “Research shows that the obsessive cellphone use by youth has negative health impacts.”
If students need to get ahold of their parents or family member, they are instructed to use the office phone. This also allows teachers and staff to keep track of students who have a problem or who are being picked up by their parents, Green said.
Students have access to a phone during emergencies and high school students may use their phones during off-campus lunch breaks.