The Conroe ISD board of trustees approved new cell phone and smartwatch guidelines for junior high and high school campuses during a regular meeting Nov. 14.

What you need to know

The district created a School Cell Phone Committee in August to evaluate and study its cell phone guidelines.

During an Oct. 17 board meeting, trustees approved the committee's first round of recommendations for students in prekindergarten through sixth grade. The committee met again in October and early November to discuss the guidelines for the junior high and high school campuses, which were presented and approved by the board Nov. 14.

Cell phones and smartwatches at the junior high level:
  • May be used respectfully and responsibly before school and after school
  • Should be set on silent mode and be kept in the designated storage area during class time and should not be visible during instructional time
  • Should not be used in any area of the building during class time, including hallways, offices, restrooms and locker rooms
  • Will be determined by campus administration in collaboration with the campus Foundations Team for use during common times, such as lunch and class change
  • Should not be used to capture video, audio or images at school or on the bus
Deputy Superintendent Bethany Medford said there is only one difference between the junior high and high school policy that addresses the use of cell phones for instructional use. This policy applies to the high schools:
  • Cell phones and smartwatches must be set on silent mode and kept in designated storage area during class time and should not be visible during instructional time unless directed by a teacher for instructional use.
What they are saying

After the presentation, Medford, along with Lindsey Ardoin, principal of York Junior High School, and Mark Murrell, principal of College Park High School, opened the floor for discussion.

When asked about enforcement at the junior high level, Ardoin said:
  • "I'm not going to lie, it's going to be hard for a campus like York with 2,000 students and 175 employees to make sure every single day, everybody is doing their job. I think it's safe to say we can and we will enforce, but there is always going to be a kid that breaks the rule, ... but we are going to try to hit it every single day."
Board member Tiffany Nelson asked how special needs students who need to be in contact with parents throughout the day will be impacted with this policy. Murrell answered:
  • "That is different, whether it's a [Section] 504 student or a special education student. Whatever is in their plan for their needs to assist them in school overrides any of the guidelines that we have because they have access to assistive technology and communications as necessary."
What's next

Medford said implementation of the policy will begin over the next several weeks.