AKRON, Ohio — Big changes are coming to three Akron schools as the district addresses concerns regarding students and cell phones.
The Akron Public Schools Board of Education voted Monday to launch a pilot program that would require students to place their cell phones in a locked bag (known as a Yondr Pouch) at Buchtel, East and Ellet.
The goals? To improve school safety and student performance. One official at the meeting labeled cell phones as “a huge disruptor,” saying they’re often used to organize fights.
Here’s how the locked bags will work...
ARRIVAL AT SCHOOL
Under staff supervision, students will turn off their device and put it in their own Yondr Pouch upon arrival. Students with a medical condition who need access to their phone will be given a bag with a Velcro closure.
DURING THE DAY
Students press the green button to secure their Yondr Pouch, which they keep with them throughout the day.
Students tap their Yondr Pouch on a magnet as they exit the building, which will unlock and open the bag.
Akron Education Association President Pat Shipe said this pilot program comes after visiting with Dayton schools where they've reported success with using Yondr bags.
“When we realized the extent of cell phone usage and what that manifested in the buildings, it was increasingly concerning how many of our students utilize their cell phones – not only in educational purposes, but they are out continually,” Shipe said.
You can watch the full discussion on the Yondr bags at Monday's meeting in the video below:
The following timeline was also provided as tentative start dates to begin use of the Yondr bags:
- East: Week of Feb. 27
- Ellet: Week of Feb. 27
- Buchtel: Week of March 6
For parents with more questions about the Yondr bags, here are a few Q&A points discussed during Monday’s meeting:
What happens in the event of an emergency?
Follow school safety procedures. Students should not be on their phones during an emergency. Students will be provided access to their phones once at a safe location.
What if you see a student’s phone outside their Yondr Pouch?
Staff will notify the administration immediately.
What if a student damages their Yondr Pouch?
Phone will be collected by administrator. Parent phone pick up and next steps determined by school policy.
What if a student forgets their pouch?
Their phone will be collected. They will get their phone back at the end of the day and be reminded to remember their pouch the next morning. The student could also return the phone to their vehicle.
Do other magnets work on Yondr Pouches?
This is very uncommon, but there are a few other magnets that will work on Yondr Pouches. If this happens, it is usually discovered quickly.
Shipe said they anticipate some tweaks could be made during the pilot program.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated Akron Schools story on Feb. 13, 2023.