CLINTON, Ill. (WCIA) – School will soon be out for the summer, but junior high students in Clinton will return to some changes. Starting in August, cell phones and all personal devices will be banned from the classroom.

Students will be required to leave their phones in their lockers until the end of the day. Principal Jim Peck said they made this decision after noticing how distracting the devices were during class.

“Everything we learn now is behind a screen. I mean, we can learn from our phones now too,” eighth-grader Brock Wilson said.

Students like Wilson aren’t too happy about their school’s new electronics policy.

“I’ve talked with my friends about it. They don’t want to do it either. I mean, no one really does, because we’re in eighth grade. We all want to be on our phone,” he said.

But, he admits it’ll be good for them.

“We’re making this decision truly because we feel like it is the best thing for the kids. To create that calm, safe, focused learning environment is of the utmost importance to us as educators,” Peck said.

Peck said keeping cell phones out of the classroom has become increasingly necessary at Clinton Junior High School.

“In my four years here each year seemed to be more kids obviously having them, more and more kids bringing them to class, not turning them off, not putting them where they needed to go,” he said.

All personal devices, except school-issued iPads, will soon be locked away by 8:25 each morning until dismissal.

“We know that kids are reliant on it and that’s why we’re still going to have technology, we’re still going to have that access to iPads and apps and all the things that we use,” he said.

Teachers are relieved. Peck believes it’s a matter of time before other schools follow suit. Texting, sharing photos of others, and social media apps like Snapchat and TikTok are the main distractions.

“Working in the school, I’m happier. But as a mother, I think it’s… obviously I would text him when different practices and things would get scheduled,” parent and school secretary Karol Wilson said.

She said it’ll take time for parents to get used to the policy, not to mention the students who’ve grown up with technology.

“I like to Snap my friends and stuff like that during class from other schools. So I’m not a big fan of it, but I know it’s probably for the best,” Brock Wilson said.

If a student violates the policy, their cell phone will be confiscated until a parent picks them up.

In light of Tuesday’s tragedy in Texas, Peck ensures that all staff members will have cell phones, and the school has detailed plans for handling emergencies.

All classrooms have phones that can call emergency numbers, call other classrooms and call the office. All staff members will have access to cell phones during the day, and no children are unsupervised during the day so no one is without the ability to get help. If parents need to contact their students, they can go through the office to send a message, and students may report to the office to call home if necessary. In the event of a lock down or emergency evacuation, students and staff will follow all prescribed emergency procedures according to district crisis plans. This may include students being escorted to reunification sites. Parents will be instructed via district communications where to go to pick up their students. In situations like we have seen around the country involving armed intruders, local authorities would rather students and staff not be on cell phones during the crisis but following the practiced plans to get to safety.

Principal Jim Peck