California high school locking up students' cellphones every day to prevent distractions
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Under a new program being rolled out this year, a high school in California is reportedly locking up its students’ cellphones to help them pay more attention in class.

Under the program, the roughly 1,700 students attending San Mateo High School are required once they arrive at school to lock up their cell phones with a Yondr pouch, which seals the device with a magnetic lock, NBC News reports. The students are able to access their phones at the end of the school day once they are unlocked by an administrator.


The high school reportedly received a $20,000 grant to fund the program, under which the pouches are given to students free of charge. However, if a pouch is damaged or lost, a student is required to pay $25 to replace it, according to NBC. 

Adam Gelb, who works as an assistant principal at San Mateo, told a local NBC affiliate that, prior to the program’s launch this month, school officials "could walk into a variety of classrooms, and kids would be on their cellphones anywhere from 5 seconds, checking a text, to 30 to 45 minutes at a time."

"You're here to learn,” Gelb said. “You are here to work with your teachers and students, and we started getting away from that because of these devices and how addictive they can be."

Some students have taken issue with the program.

"I think [during] lunchtime it should be allowed," Kaveela Blackwell, a student at the high school, told NBC. "It's your free time to do what you want." 

However, a number of other students have warmed up to the idea.

Ariana Lacson said that although she was skeptical of the program at first, she likes it now “because it makes students socialize more amongst each other, and teachers say students are talking to each other more rather than being zoned out on their phones."

Student Polina Tu'ipuloto told NBC News that the program has already helped her “a lot” since its implementation earlier this month. 

“I'm like a typical teenager, you know? Like, I'm always on my phone," Tu'ipuloto said. "Before I would usually just like curl over in the side of my desk and like check my phone and text everyone. But now there's no other thing for us to look at or do except for talk to our teacher or pay attention."

Schools around the world are struggling with keeping students focused in a hyper-connected era. Last year, the nation of France implemented a ban on smartphones in the classroom.

The ban, which applied to students between 3 and 15 years of age, also prohibited the use of other internet-connected devices, such as tablets, and was meant to combat what Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer called at the time a "phenomenon of screen addiction."