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Another Maine school district is banning cell phone use during the school day

A view of the mobile phone app logos for, from left, Facebook and Instagram in New York, Oct. 5, 2021.
Richard Drew
AP file
A view of the mobile phone app logos for, from left, Facebook and Instagram in New York, Oct. 5, 2021.

RSU 1, in Bath, has become the latest Maine school district to ban cell phones.

Under a policy passed last month, sixth through twelfth grade students will be required to lock their phone or smart watch into a magnetic pouch for the entirety of the school day.

While some officials questioned the need for an all-day ban, Board Member Jamie Dorr said at a meeting in late June that the pouches are an important tool to fight a technology addiction that's contributing to student mental health challenges.

"It's not going to be perfect. But it's going to be better than, right now, administrators and friends who are teachers, that are like, 'Help! We can't get through a lesson,'" Dorr said.

Districts in Augusta, South Portland and Westbrook have imposed similar bans recently. And Eileen King, with the Maine School Superintendents Association, said some school officials have already reported students being more engaged in learning and classroom activities without their cell phones.

"So it's going to be a whole shift, and it's going to take some time to do it. But I do believe that we are going, if we do this and we do it together, we're going to start to see our kids become healthier, more well rounded, and, and more interactive with each other," King said.

Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General called for lawmakers to put a warning on social media platforms because of their potential harm to children's mental health.