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Woodbury High School posts new electronics policy

Woodbury High School launched earlier this school year an electronics policy, that outlines on how and when electronics can be used in the classroom to enhance a student's educational experience.

Today's high school students are living in the age of technology and Woodbury High School staff has decided to embrace it with open arms.

Earlier this school year WHS launched its new electronics policy, which gives guidelines on how, and when, electronics can be used in the classroom.

"We want to be encouraging the use of all kinds of technology by our teachers and our students," WHS Principal Linda Plante said. "With that push to use technology effectively, the teachers really wanted to state what their position was in terms of what was appropriate use of technology in order to support educational pursuits."

Plante said several teachers had concerns about cheating in the classroom, thanks to the electronic devices, so putting a policy in place seemed like the best solution.

"The concern that teachers had that the use of electronic devices, when there weren't guidelines, would result in cheating and that's always a fear in education," she said. "So, we decided we would be very proactive."

WHS electronics policy

The WHS electronics policy begins with a preamble, which includes:

"Most students possess such devices and parents support their appropriate use in a school setting. As an innovative school, Woodbury High School encourages the appropriate use of electronic devices in the classroom or other school settings. The personal use of electronic devices must not endanger persons or property, disrupt the educational process, or violate a publicized policy of the school. The behavior of the student using the device is addressed rather than the possession of the device."

The policy relates to all devices such as pagers, cellphones, iPods, personal digital assistants, portable music players, laptops, CD players, game players, cameras, video camera, GPS and tablets.

"We wanted a preamble that told people we were not against the use of electronic devices," Plante said. "We wanted the electronic devices to enhance education at Woodbury High School.

The school lists the rules this way: devices must be carried in off or silent mode during class periods; devices may be used by students before and after school, during lunch periods and during passing times between classes; devices may be used in the classroom by students for academic purposes or note taking at the discretion of the teacher; teachers are encouraged to develop lessons utilizing technology; it is never acceptable to take photos or videos of others students without their permission; it is never acceptable to send threatening or harassing text messages for phone calls; and electronic devices will not be used on exam days.

"We wanted students to be focused and intentional about school during the entire school day and get in the habit of keeping those phones off," Plante said. "Sometimes I don't think they realize the interruption a phone going off in the class does or how it interrupts a person.

"We want students to get in the habit of not having that constantly tugging at them."

Electronics are also forbidden from being used for recreational purposes, such as gaming and Internet browsing, during class.

If students are using electronics inappropriately, Plante said, there will be consequences.

After the first offense students will have their device taken away and students will be able to pick them up at the end of the day from an assistant principal.

After the second offense, the device will be taken away and a parent will have to pick up the device from the assistant principal.

The electronics policy will be reviewed every year and amended if necessary.

Plante said she has heard from teachers and students that the electronics policy has already proven to be successful.

"Teachers have already said that there are fewer interruptions in the classroom," Plante said, "and students have said that the policy has relieved them of the pressure of feeling that they have to text every moment.

"Everyone feels like their class time is a little bit more sacred."

Developing the policy

The development of the electronics policy went through many stages before reaching its final form.

Plante first took all department heads offsite to have a discussion and work on developing the policy.

"It resulted in some very spirited discussions," Plante said. "Teachers have very specific feelings about how electronic devices should be used; they want students to realize that during the school day the electronic devices that a student may be carrying can really enhance education if they are used for education purposes."

Once the draft policy was in place, the policy was distributed to all teachers for feedback.

Plante also presented the policy to students, the school's parent group and ultimately the school's Site Team.

"And this is what we came up with," Plante said.

Visit to see the full electronics policy.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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