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Lewiston could place new restrictions on cell phone use in schools

This June 16, 2017 photo shows social media app icons on a smartphone held by an Associated Press reporter in San Francisco. Google yourself.
Jeff Chiu
/
AP
This June 16, 2017 photo shows social media app icons on a smartphone held by an Associated Press reporter in San Francisco. Google yourself.

Lewiston school administrators say a new proposal restricting cell phone use could help to curb a growing number of students using their devices during class.

The Lewiston School Committee could vote on the policy on Monday night, which would require that students from kindergarten through eighth grade turn off phones and similar devices during the school day, unless they're needed for specific purposes. High schoolers could only have them out during lunch and between classes.

Lewiston Superintendent Jake Langlais said over the past year, the district has seen a huge increase in students pulling out phones in hallways and classrooms — even among elementary-age children.

"For example, a group of fourth-grade girls, asking to use the restroom to go use their phones, instead of being in class, on a pretty consistent basis," Langlais said. "To the point that a teacher raises concern, and then administration is trying to find out what's going on. And it's all being tied back to activity on their phones."

In a recent survey, many educators supported the new plan, but some local parents and students pushed back, saying kids need phone access in case of emergencies.

The new proposal, which Langlais said was modelled after a recent policy change in Westbrook, also explicitly prohibits the use of cameras in areas such as locker rooms and bathrooms, and generally requires permission before a person is recorded in school locations.

The district is also sending out messages to families encouraging them to moderate phone use at home by keeping them off during meal time and not charging them in the same room where a student sleeps.