Petersburg students may soon have to lock up phones during the day

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — With violent threats targeting schools more often, families want their children to have the ability to call them in a crisis. But cell phone policies could change at another Virginia school district, which may restrict students from having immediate access.

Petersburg City Public Schools announced an electronic survey and virtual webinar regarding the potential use of YONDR cell phone pouches by the school district. This would require students at all of the city’s high and middle schools to lock their phones in magnetic cases during the school day.

The school district said its goal is to decrease disruption and interference with instructional time, and to improve students’ academic engagement, behavior and performance in the classroom.

School administrators said in emergency situations, teachers can use their classroom phones or even cut the pouches cell phones are locked in.

Hopewell’s middle and high schools began using the pouches in the fall of 2022. Hopewell’s Assistant Superintendent, Jay McClain, told 8News that students have been more focused on learning and social interaction since the change took place.

“The goal is to establish a clear barrier for their use during the day, and the pouches accomplish that,” said McClain. “They are not perfect, but they are a help for some of the reasons we put them in place.”

Richmond Public Schools recently approved a plan to pilot the use of cell phone pouches at six schools starting in January.

Petersburg Public Schools wants families, students and staff to give input on the new tool before moving forward. An online informational session will take place on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m., so families can learn more about how the pouch works.

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