Two Tempe Union high schools are taking steps to crack down on cell phone use during the school day.
Students at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee Foothills and Tempe High School will face more restrictive cell phone policies when they return for classes Aug. 4.
Educators at both schools in the Tempe Union High School District want to address the distractions that occur as more students bring their phones on campus.
"What we saw last year was an increase in the amount of disruption in the classroom due to cell phones," said Mark Yslas, Tempe High principal. "Students would slip their hands in their backpacks or pockets and text each other, or some cell phones would ring or vibrate during class."
As a result, Tempe High is banning use of cell phones from the morning bell to the afternoon release bell - with the exception of lunchtime.
"I've heard from our parents that they want to be in contact with their son or daughter. That's why we went with them being able to check their messages at lunchtime and get back to their parents," Yslas said. "Maybe a parent needs to tell their child that they'll be home late from work, so go to your aunt's house, or do your homework and start dinner."
At Desert Vista, the new policy goes a step further, outlawing the use of cell phones during the entire school day - including lunchtime.
"This includes the use in hallways, restrooms, offices or any other place on campus; students may NOT take a pass out of class to use their phones. Cell phones must be on silent or turned off and kept out of sight," the new Desert Vista policy states.
The rule mirrors the policy implemented last year at Mountain Pointe High School in Ahwatukee Foothills.
"From an education standpoint, it's worked really well. We cut down the number of distractions in class," said Bruce Kipper, Mountain Pointe principal. "Some kids grumble every once in a while, but they understand why we are doing it. We haven't had any uprising or rebellion, anything."
The schools all have rules that state that, after a specific number of infractions occur, a student's phone will be confiscated and a parent must come to the office to pick it up.
"We even have a few parents say they'll be down in a couple of days to pick it up," Kipper said. "Then kids don't let it happen again."
Meanwhile, at Tempe's Corona del Sol High School, administrators have a different way of dealing with phones: They educate students on etiquette.
Mark Duplissis, assistant principal, said he started looking into the issue around 2005, just as text messaging was "starting to boom," and teachers were asking him for help.
"I decided instead of eliminating cell phones, I would come up with cell phone etiquette as a way to teach students to use their cell phones," he said.
He's posted the etiquette rules outside of classrooms and read them over the intercom, he said.
While phones are prohibited at Corona del Sol during instructional time - even in hallways - they can be used in passing times and lunchtimes, as long as students use them responsibly.
"It's worked really well for us at Corona, although I understand everyone is different," he said.