Phones banned during class changes & lunch in Jasper

Superintendent blames bullying & social media
Phones banned during class changes & lunch in Jasper

There’s a lot of conversation happening while students eat lunch at Jasper schools. A big change according to the superintendent who said students used to bury their faces in their phones. But, it was also bad behavior via phones that prompted the district to ban phones at lunch.

Superintendent Christina Hess explained, “They weren’t very nice to each other. There was some social media involved. The problem is, if they’re on their own devices, it doesn’t pull a filter. And so, we were getting a lot of harassments and bullying complaints. That was going on during school time.” Hess said certain messages were tracked to have happened during the lunch period.

Senior Skyla Vailes doesn’t believe she’s seen any bullying and doesn’t believe the ban could stop it if it exists.
Skyla said, “If it is happening, during school, it’s only gonna change the time that its happening. It’s not solving anything.

The policy also bans cell phone use between classes when students are in the halls. Both bans don’t sit well with the Vaile family.

Skyla’s mom, Tabetha Vailes said, “I’m not against cell phones not being in the classroom. I think teachers do deserve that respect. I think lunch time and time between classes, that’s their time.”

Steven Vailes, Skyla’s dad added, “My rules, our kids are to check their phones. Now the school’s policy is going against my rules. I’ve told my kids, you need to check your phone between classes, check it at lunch, make sure we have a line of communication.”

Steven added, “They drive their siblings to and from school, things change everyday. I work for myself so sometimes kids bring me things, drop things off. We have a big family. There’s six of us. My wife goes to school and all the kids are in school. I work. We’re always running, so having communication is key.” Tabetha added, “It’s about convenience for us and their safety.”
The Vailes contend the district does not do a good job of contacting families when there are problems at school. An example they gave was a younger child being poked in the eye with a stick and simply sent home on the bus rather than the parents called to get the child to a doctor. That, they said, delayed medical treatment.
The superintendent said parents are being told to call the office when they want or need to reach students.

The superintendent said checking social media or notifications during the 4 minute passing can bleed into class time. Hess explained, “They’re still engrossed, still engaged, in whatever that notification was. What teachers were seeing, it was taking along time getting kids to focus.”
But now Hess said things are better. “We are seeing better engagement. Bell to bell instruction where that first few minutes isn’t lost.”

While many students say they don’t need cell phones in class because of having access to school computers, they disagree on whether a complete ban is necessary. Senior William Chaffin said, “People were showing things on their phone to people who weren’t allowed to see things on phones. With that I do agree. That’s completely ok to ban a phone for that. But to do a school wide ban where you can’t have them in your hallway or lunch room, I think it’s kind of ridiculous.”

Jonathan Kohley, another senior said, “I’m 100 percent for!” He explained, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how addicted we are as a society to our phones and how we don’t intimately know each other.”

Hess said students see phones as a right while the district deems it a privilege. And attitudes against the ban don’t surprise her.

Hess said, “We didn’t expect them to like the policy. And they didn’t. And they don’t.”

KOAM-TV contacted several other Missouri school districts to learn their cell phone use policies.

Joplin: No phones allowed during middle school day. Teachers can grant permission for use. High school students can use at lunch or in halls but must not be disruptive.

Carl Junction: No cell phones during school day. Parents needing to reach kids can call the office. Phones are confiscated if out during lunch.

Neosho: Cell phones are to be put away during instructional time but can be used at lunch and passing times.

Webb City: District encourages students put away phones and requests no cell phones during lunch or in hallways. Teaches may allow student usage. No penalties and district hopes to integrate phones in a positive way to teach responsibility.