Florida school district's cellphone ban will extend to lunch, recess

Florida's schools are cracking down on cellphone usage after a new law was approved. In Orange County, the school board is taking it a step further.

"As long as they can use it during emergencies, I’m fine with all the rest of it not using it, because he’s got in trouble a couple of times for using his phone in school," said parent Reginald Hadley of his 9-year-old son, Gavin. He said Gavin has a cellphone for emergencies, during school just in case. "Your teacher might let you use it anytime at recess or something."

Now, the Orange County School Board is considering a no-cellphone use policy change. 

"Our policy takes it one step further in that students won’t be allowed their cellphones out really from bell-to-bell," board member Angie Gallo explained. "So they won’t be allowed to have their phone out of their backpack."

That will also extend to recess and lunch.

"I still had a little heartburn about the bell-to-bell. I felt like the kids should have use of the cellphone during lunches, just so they could get a hold of parents." 

Gallo said they are still trying to figure out how it will be policed. We asked about teachers who may be concerned about having to police this. 

"I’m concerned for them," she replied. "It’s really going to be incumbent on our teachers, our educational professionals, and our administrators to ensure the policy is being adhered to."

However, she said recent data shows it’s better to put the cellphones away during school hours.

"The students were interacting and being more social during lunchtime because they weren’t glued to their phones. Fighting decreased a lot."

While there will be a new policy, Gallo added that it won't mean parents can’t contact their children.

"The students will still be allowed to use any phone in the teacher's room, the main office. A parent could call into the main office and get a note to their student." 

Gallo said there will be a public hearing before a vote is taken. She recommends parents pay attention to many new policy changes coming up, including one banning social media in schools.