Governor’s message to students: ‘hang up and learn’

Jan 19, 2024, 7:00 PM

cellphone schools...

Sixth grade students listen to their teacher during Utah studies class at Evergreen Junior High School in Millcreek on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is pushing for K-12 schools throughout the state to ban cellphones during classes.

“If you go back and look at the data, learning loss in our country, and all over the world, started in about 2012 when the smartphones became ubiquitous,” Gov. Cox said as reported by KSL.com.

The governor has recently sent letters to school principals, district and charter schools, school community council members and the State Board of Education asking for cellphones to be removed while students are learning in class.


Cellphone and kids’ mental health

Aimee Winder Newton, senior advisor and director of Office of Families, discusses cellphone use degrading students’ learning environment.

Both the governor in his letter and Newton mentioned Delta High School in the Millard School District.

“They’re a cellphone-free school, and they have those little shoe holders that are clear. They have one of those in front of the classroom, and the kids put them in when they walk through the door,” she said. “And then they can go out grab them when they leave.”

Evergreen Junior High in Granite School District prohibits cellphone use of any kind at any time during school hours.

“Think about all these kids walking down the halls of their school and looking at their phones instead of looking at each other, making eye contact, saying ‘hi’ to friends,” Winder Newton said. “It’s not good for youth mental health for us to have phones in our faces at all times. And so the more we can encourage this in our schools, the better.”

Local control on cellphones in class

She added that Gov. Cox wants each school to assemble its own way of banning cellphones in class.

“Each community really should decide for themselves,” Winder Newton said. “The governor really advocates for not a one-size-fits-all, but pushing for the schools and districts to work with parents and develop these policies to give the best environment for students to focus and learn.”

What about emergencies?

What’s the procedure if a student needs his or her cellphone during an emergency?

“When there’s an emergency, we need kids to be focused on the teacher and the instructions that they are giving so that they can stay safe,” she said. “We don’t need a bunch of kids running to pull out their phones and call their mom and dad.”

Winder Newton closed by saying when the governor convenes a Cabinet meeting the agenda says that this is a cellphone-free meeting.

“He encourages us to pay attention and listen and not be on our phones,” she said.

Related: Should cellphones be banned from the classroom?

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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Governor’s message to students: ‘hang up and learn’