One Seattle school to lock down students’ cellphones this fall; others expected to follow

SEATTLE — Students at one Seattle middle school may be feeling out of touch when they return to class this fall.

That’s when Hamilton International Middle School will require cellphones to be locked away in sealed pouches, according to a news release from the school’s PTSA.

The plan was approved by Hamilton’s principal Thursday morning. Other Seattle schools are expected to do the same.

The goal is to decrease bullying, improve student performance and help with staff retention.

When a student enters school, their phone will be put into an individual canvas bag that requires an unlocking base to reopen. It will then be given back to the student, but they won’t be able to use their phone until the bag is unlocked at the end of the day. Find more information in this document.

According to the company that makes the pouches, Yondr, one million students use the pouches each school day, including one other school in Washington state.

The company says the schools using its pouches report:

  • 83% increase in student engagement in the classroom.
  • 74% improvement in student behavior.
  • 65% increase in academic performance.

Though Hamilton already has a “phones away for the day” rule, it was often up to teachers to enforce it, HIMS principal Dr. Eric Marshall said in a meeting with the school community.

The PTSA will raise funds to pay the one-time fee for the program.

“Seattle Public Schools is in an ongoing lawsuit against the companies that own TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, claiming their social media platforms cause significant harm to students’ social, emotional, and mental health,” the school district said in a news release.

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