Thorndale ISD will require students to keep phones in sealed pouches

The district is implementing a system called Yondr at its middle and high schools.

THORNDALE, Texas — Thorndale ISD is instituting a new policy to try to keep students focused on their schoolwork.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Adam Ivy announced that Thorndale ISD’s high school and middle school will be using a system called Yondr to “facilitate an engaged learning environment.”

The Yondr system involves requiring students to lock their phones, smart watches and/or wireless earbuds in magnetically-sealed pouches while they are at school. Students will hold onto their pouches during the day but will not use their devices until their pouches are opened at the end of the day. When leaving school, students will tap their pouches to an unlocking base to release their devices.

Students will be required to bring their Yondr pouch to and from school each day and will be responsible for their pouch at all times.

“We have seen through observation, data and discussion with other schools and through multiple reliable sources related to school safety that the use of personal mobile devices at school by students has become a huge educational distraction, a source of cyber bullying, a source of time lost on instruction, and a creator of many problems that administrators must investigate,” reads one answer in a Q&A included in Ivy’s letter. “We believe that the removal of these devices and especially social media from our school buildings will result in a much more productive and safe educational environment.”

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Students who have their devices out at school face fines and in-school suspension, with the number of days varying based on if it’s their first offense, second offense and so on.

The district said based on information from law enforcement, it is “actually safer for students to refrain from using their devices in an emergency situation.” However, the district is working on a plan in the event devices are deemed necessary in a lockdown situation, and there is a phone in every classroom and office that can be used in an emergency.

Thorndale ISD said Yondr recently surveyed 900 school partners to measure the effects of phone-free educational environments. According to the district, 65% of those schools saw an improvement in academic performance, 74% saw an improvement in student behavior and 83% saw an improvement in student engagement in the classroom.

To learn more about Thorndale ISD’s new policy, you can read Ivy’s full letter, which includes a thorough Q&A section.

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