Chief Sealth IHS says no cell phones in class. Talk about it at Tuesday night’s PTSA meeting

A new policy at Chief Sealth International High School this year – no cell phone use during class. Under the hashtag #AwayForThe Day, it’s explained: “The expectation is simple. Students will need to keep their phone away for the day. This means that during class time, phones will be in their backpack or bag and remain there until the end of class. Teachers will also have cases, lockers or something similar where phones can be safely stored if the student would prefer that.” After a survey, an FAQ was sent out, with most student questions answered the same way: “You can use your cell phone before and after school, and during lunch.” It’s going to be a topic at the first Chief Sealth PTSA meeting of the year, Tuesday night at 7 pm in the school library, PTSA leaders say guests will include Sealth principal Ray Morales as well as “a presenter from our Building Leadership Team talking about the research that went into making the phone decision.” Community members are welcome at the meeting too, even if you’re not a Sealth parent, teacher, or student. Other topics include discussing “key issues the PTSA will focus on this year.” P.S. We’ve asked Seattle Public Schools if any other schools have a similar cell-phone policy; haven’t heard back yet.

47 Replies to "Chief Sealth IHS says no cell phones in class. Talk about it at Tuesday night's PTSA meeting"

  • Rhonda September 18, 2023 (4:45 pm)

    I wouldn’t let my kid turn over their phone to school officials. Just keep it turned off and on their person.

    • WS Res September 18, 2023 (9:42 pm)

      Reading comprehension. Recommended.

      • Mike September 19, 2023 (5:34 am)

        I’m in tears laughing 

      • KinesthesiaAmnesia September 19, 2023 (8:57 am)

        Teachers will also have cases, lockers or something similar where phones can be safely stored if the student would prefer that”Reading comprehension recommended, indeed.I agree with Rhonda on this one.

        • Lagartija Nick September 19, 2023 (12:12 pm)

          Hey Kin, do you not know what the word ‘prefer’ means? 

        • Breanna Johnson September 22, 2023 (6:58 am)

          I teach freshmen at Sealth. The kids are not having g phones stored by teachers. We haven’t NEEDED it at all. The kids put their phones away when the bell rings. They respond well to gentle reminders. They keep their own phone. We thought having a place in the room to store them would be helpful. It was not necessary. The kids seem engaged in speaking with each other instead of isolating into their phones. It is actually pretty amazing. Dare I say (fingers crossed) it much more closely resembles the pre-pandemic social interactions between students? We are not taking or confiscating phones. Teachers don’t want the responsibility for the students’ phones AND it is not a way to build positive relationships with students. Instead we talk about the mental health benefits and how it is a struggle for us all to change our at times addictive habit. Not checking one’s cellphone for 50 minutes (even though it seems silly) was tough at first, but we are doing it. The older students struggle more with this perhaps since they have known the school with different rules in previous years, but it has been fairly smooth sailing. Families are supportive. Teachers are also putting their phones away. I use mine as a timer and a camera in class with their consent. It is pretty great, ya’ll. 

  • waikikigirl September 18, 2023 (5:22 pm)

    This is a very, very good idea. We never had cell phones back when I went to school (weren’t invented yet) and we did just fine without them. How are kids getting the full learning potential when they’re distracted with what’s going on, on FB, TikTok… GOOD IDEA!    

    • Alki resident September 18, 2023 (6:38 pm)

      There wasn’t school lockdowns and shootings back then. Kids need their phones with them. 

      • WSTeacher September 18, 2023 (7:13 pm)

        The idea of a no cell phone in class policy is about phone USE in class not about students not being able to have them physically with them. They just need to keep the phones in their bag or pocket and not take it out during instruction. They are a huge barrier to learning and it’s unrealistic to think that teenagers have self-regulation strategies for managing them on their own. All schools should have policies in place that restrict phone use during class instruction time. 

      • Westwood September 18, 2023 (7:47 pm)

        And nothing in this policy says they cannot still have their phones with them. 

      • north admiral resident September 18, 2023 (7:49 pm)

        School shootings are incredibly rare, children are far more likely to be hurt or killed in a car accident on their way to school.Even still, what good does a cell phone do in the scenario of a school shooting?Better to focus on improving the educational experience by making kids focus on class than to worry about things that rarely happen

        • Anywhere but here September 18, 2023 (10:02 pm)

          You really typed out “school shooting are incredibly rare” without even thinking about that statement huh? 

          • Mel September 19, 2023 (5:38 am)

            Are you familiar with statistics? They are incredibly rare. Statistically speaking, the chances of being involved in a school shooting are extremely low.

          • Anywhere but here September 19, 2023 (8:51 pm)

            Well as long as the statistics say it,  then I’m sure all the parents who’ve lost children to school shootings are just being dramatic with their grief. While it’s actually irrelevant to the discussion of using their phones during class, since they are allowed to keep them in their backpacks, minimizing the severity of school shootings is really a pretty disgusting way to try and prove your point.

          • Anywhere but here September 19, 2023 (9:16 pm)

            Are you familiar with the idea that statistics don’t mean anything to a parent who has lost a child to a school shooting? Minimizing the severity of school shootings to a matter of statistics is a pretty questionable moral standpoint. 

        • Jay September 19, 2023 (9:21 am)

          The number one cause of death in children and teens is being shot, whether it happens in school or at home. Kids are more likely to die by a gunshot than a car accident.

          • Jethro Marx September 19, 2023 (2:04 pm)

            Kids are more likely to die by a gunshot than a car accident.”

            This is not true, and can easily be proven thus, as it is based on intentional distortion of publicly available statistics.  I can not help but think that people are continuing to repeat this verifiable falsehood because they care more about propaganda than truth, but maybe it’s just carelessness.

            Anyway, I applaud the school finally telling kids to put their phones away during class time.  There are not a lot of boundaries set at that school and it can be disheartening.

          • berto September 19, 2023 (8:24 pm)

            Jethro, per the CDC: “In 2020 and 2021, firearms contributed to the deaths of more children ages 1-17 years in the U.S. than any other type of injury or illness.” I would love to know how this data is intentionally distorted.

          • Jethro Marx September 19, 2023 (10:02 pm)

            No, not per the CDC, this is per the “KFF analysis of CDC Wonder underlying cause of death data.” I have never seen the population subset limited to 1-17; typically it is expanded to 1-19 to support the claim. I don’t know much about KFF but the links to the data/analysis at the place you linked are not working correctly. Death by gun is a problem, critically so for 18-19 year-old adults, and I don’t want to lessen that. Deaths in school shootings are horrifying, and also not statistically significant, which can be horrifying in a different way. 

      • will have phones September 18, 2023 (7:56 pm)

        It says this:

        This means that during class time, phones will be in their backpack or bag and remain there until the end of class”

        I’m sure they’d be able to grab their phones out of their backpacks or bags if there was a lockdown or a shooting.

      • The King September 18, 2023 (10:47 pm)

        There have been shootings in schools since 1840. Where are you getting your information? 

      • Brian September 19, 2023 (12:06 pm)

        Some of us grew up during a magical time of school shootings AND no cell phones. 

    • Marty2 September 18, 2023 (6:42 pm)

      We just passed notes to each other when the teacher wasn’t looking.

  • KC September 18, 2023 (5:57 pm)

    Arbor Heights Elementary has a no technology policy this year:

  • Brandon September 18, 2023 (6:16 pm)

    As a former student, those were the rules to begin with in each and every class I attended.  Students respected it, and their teachers.  Phones were confiscated and later returned after class if it was a problem, (and it was rarely a problem).   Sad that respect seems to be gone if it needs to become an official policy eliminating all exceptions, especially for those who followed the rules but got emergency texts in class they politely asked to be excused for.  And if it wasn’t a problem, why do this?

    Oh, some bad students broke the rules because their parents didn’t teach them how to behave. Now punish everybody in a way that will be ineffective because those bad students are going to continue anyway.  Way to epitomize public school decision making.

    • waikikigirl September 19, 2023 (7:16 am)

      @Brandon, BRAVO and you get a big high 5 from me! You sound to be a very good person and was taught well from your parent(s) how to RESPECT and follow RULES. I admire you and GOOD JOB Parents!

    • Delta September 19, 2023 (9:15 am)

      That’s the reasoning behind most legislation – Bad actors do stupid things, there is a desire to curb the bad behavior, new laws are written, and sometimes they’re overbearing.

  • waikikigirl September 18, 2023 (7:17 pm)

    OMG I guess I’m just old fashion, why does an elementary school age child need a cell phone? And I can see a lot of grades dropping this school year… no looking something up to cheat. OH wait kids would never do that! LOL!

  • Graciano September 18, 2023 (7:25 pm)

    It’s about time.., kids don’t need to bring a phone into the class room.
    If your kid gets caught, the parent can pick the phone from the principals office at the end of the day..

  • Sealth parent September 18, 2023 (8:08 pm)

    Bravo to the Chief Sealth staff! This cell phone policy is clear, concise and in support of the kids, their learning and their mental health! It should be a model for the rest of SPS! It’s beyond time!!!

  • Wseattleite September 18, 2023 (9:57 pm)

    Why is this not already a thing?  Are kids currently allowed to be on their phones during class?

    • Brandon September 18, 2023 (11:23 pm)

      Can almost certainly guarantee it’s not allowed. It wasn’t over a decade ago and there’s zero reason that should have changed over a generation.  It would be reprehensible if it was allowed because the phones are detrimental to the learning environment.  Websites on the SPS servers are blocked, so it makes no sense to allow a cell to be used in class with all access to the net.  This is likely nothing more than making an unspoken rule an official rule.  From my perspective, that only happens if it got out of hand and teachers couldn’t reel in their classes which is a really bad look for the school.  And if it wasn’t a problem, then they’re making a controversy out of a non-problem which is also a bad look.

      Back in my day kids stole backpacks. Parents aren’t going to be happy when $1,000+ smart phones start to go missing because the phones aren’t kept in their kid’s pockets. Easy pickings, and that’s coming from a law-abiding citizen.  So, in the end, few will comply the way they wish but they can pat themselves on the back.

  • KS September 18, 2023 (10:03 pm)

    That seems like it’s going to be difficult for teachers to enforce. Depending upon the teacher and the group of kids. We are already asking so much of our teachers this seems like it could be a battle for them. Good for the school for trying though!! And I’m hoping every high school kid will be compliant.  (eye roll)

  • jissy September 18, 2023 (10:16 pm)

    Highline is also doing this but they are allowing the parents to sign an “opt-out” if they so wish for their student. 

    • A WS Teacher September 20, 2023 (6:44 am)

      The opt-out plan is going to muddy the waters and make enforcement much more difficult.  

  • WS% September 18, 2023 (10:17 pm)

    I wish our schools used the Yondr Pouches that way phones are kept with students but locked up during the day.  In an emergency the pouches can be unlocked by school staff.

  • KL September 18, 2023 (10:36 pm)

    Way to go, Chief Sealth! I sure hope WSHS follows suit. What a fantastic way to support students and teachers, to minimize distraction, and to level the playing field. Not every kiddo has a phone, and its so easy for those who don’t to feel left out.I wish they could ban them at lunch too, but this is a great start.

  • Adam September 18, 2023 (11:13 pm)

    Welcome to Idiocracy. Insane this has to have a specific policy. Time for us to look in the mirror, it ain’t our kids that are the problem. 

  • Mel September 19, 2023 (5:41 am)

    Why is this controversial? As a parent, I think it’s a no brainer to make kids keep their phones off during the school day. Particularly during class. Someone mentioned highline school district parents can opt out of this. That seems ridiculous. Teachers should just be able to enforce rules like phones off without anyone opting out.

  • High School Teacher September 19, 2023 (6:36 am)

    Seattle schools’ lawsuit (that is NOT being paid for with district funds) against the social media titans has been joined by 100 other districts.

    It is a big deal, a national crisis. Students have been intentionally addicted and the crisis is getting worse.  If solving this is as easy as stating a policy, the lawsuit would have no basis, right? You don’t think teachers and schools have tried saying “No phones in class”?   

    Follow-up reporting should ask what new administrative and mental health supports are being put in place to support teachers in implementing  the policy. Has this policy been well-designed from top to bottom, with designated actual meaningful consequences and new addiction-treatment programs in place for students who continue to violate the policy after consequences? Are teachers encouraged to firmly remind students once or twice, and then refer the issue to admin so they can get back to teaching? And will admin then do something? Is there an actual plan to support teachers and students? Or is the plan something like teachers will call home when students violate the policy? Then what?

  • Dan September 19, 2023 (8:56 am)

    This needs to be a district-wide policy. As a parent of an 8th grader, I see the direct effects of not having a specific policy for cell phones in class and I can say without a doubt that phones create more issues than they solve for teens in school. My daughter regularly has 200+ pickups of her phone during a school day. Most of these might only be for a couple seconds but every single time, she is distracted from learning. And all those notifications are coming from other kids messaging her. With a unified policy, it would certainly eliminate a huge portion of the distractions.

  • KW September 19, 2023 (9:39 am)

    I think a no phone policy is a fantastic idea and way overdue! Teaching and learning should be the number one priority of our schools. Our kids are too distracted by these devices and have little ability to control their behavior due to the addictive nature of the apps they consume. Good job Chief Sealth!

  • norsegirl September 19, 2023 (11:08 am)

    And what happens if the student does not comply with the rule and refuses to give up the phone?  What happens if the student initiates a behavioral and/or verbal altercation?  What is the teacher supposed to do?  What are the other students thinking when they observe the noncompliance interaction? I support the no cell phone in classes to advantage teaching and learning.  Just wondering about the noncompliance scenerio and it’s effect?

  • Joyce September 19, 2023 (12:15 pm)

    Madison Middle School has had this same policy since the middle of last school year, although I still see my child regularly using their phone throughout the school day.

  • Steph September 19, 2023 (1:24 pm)

    Good job Sealth, for instituting this policy. Please now take it all the way and ban WiFi in/near all schools and only use hard wired Internet. I’m on day four of my phone) Internet self imposed ban. Really tough but it has become apparent that it is killing me and destroying my vision. Obviously I am making a few exceptions and WSB is one of those.  (Shall I show you the burns on my hands from the phone? The telecom industry is lying to us completely about the dangers from the increased radiation and the emotional destruction of our children and others from the social manipulation by the tech industry.)  Life is better when lived in reality, not virtual manipulation.

  • alki mom September 19, 2023 (5:06 pm)

    Summit Atlas also has a similar policy I think. Phones, YouTube and social media are a huge concern for our youth mental health. I’ve told my kids no smartphone until they’re at least 15 (hoping even longer!). I know they are in the minority, but would be great to see other parents do the same. 

  • West Seattle resident I’m not a teacher September 22, 2023 (3:33 pm)

    This policy is not “courageous” (as an attendee at the PTSA meeting is quoted as having said regarding #AwayForTheDay at Chief Sealth International High School) – it’s the bare minimum to expect students to remain focused on learning during class time and not be distracted by phones. Teachers shouldn’t be nervous about asking students to hand over those devices or put them away and out of use, until the end of class. If a child is going to have a meltdown over it, then it’s probably time to have a conversation about why they can’t put their phones down for a solid 30-45 minutes or an hour, why they constantly feel the need to look at the phone? Find ways for them to detach from devices and improve their levels of concentration.

Sorry, comment time is over.