The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Upper School reinforces phone and earbud policies

Sophia Bakhtiari
The Upper School is mandating the use of phone caddies in the classroom for the fourth quarter to prevent further distractions from cellphones following an increase in Honor Board cases related to phone usage. The use of earbuds and headphones in the classroom will also be strictly prohibited.

Head of Upper School Beth Slattery mandated that teachers enforce the upper school’s cell phone policy in an email to teachers March 19. In the email, Slattery said the Upper School is tightening existing phone and headphone policies for the fourth quarter.

“Please require students to place their phones in the cellphone caddy and do not allow them to retrieve it unless they are going to purchase food during a break,” Slattery said. “If a student is caught with their cell phone during class, please confiscate it and bring it to my office where we will keep it for the remainder of the day. The same applies to ear buds or other headphones that should not be used during class.”

The change follows the Middle School’s phone and headphone ban in August and an increase in upper school Honor Board cases related to phone usage, according to an email from Slattery. Slattery said she has no current plans to implement further cell phone restrictions at the Upper School.”

“Right now I just want to normalize that you can’t have [phones] in class,” Slattery said. “I’m also not going to permit earbuds or headphones in class. That’s really as far as I want to go right now. I would just like to get these under control.

Cole Grossman ’25 said the school is justified in enforcing its phone policy but should loosen restrictions.

“I think that the Upper School is reinforcing its phone policies because students were at times taking advantage of their teacher’s lenience and acting disrespectfully,” Grossman said. “However, I still think it is too harsh because it makes some things much harder for the students who do follow the directions.”

Fiona Kim ’24 said she does not foresee the Upper School banning cellphones entirely because of their important day-to-day uses.

“While the Upper School may tighten its phone policy next year, I don’t expect a total ban,” Kim said. “Students still need phones to check out at the cafeteria and to contact parents. Plus phone use is one of the best upper school privileges. It’s much easier to locate peers during breaks when I have a means of contacting them.”

Kim said she hopes to use the new cellphone policy to form more interpersonal relationships during class.

“While I was surprised that the policy was implemented during fourth quarter, I hope it can foster more classroom connection,” Kim said. “One of the memories I most cherish from middle school was spending time with friends without the distraction of phones.”

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