Per MCPS: The Montgomery County Board of Education has approved a revised regulation (COG-RA) concerning student possession and use of personal mobile devices on school property and during MCPS-sponsored activities. Approved in May, the regulation establishes procedures for possession and use of non-MCPS issued personal mobile devices that are used to send or receive data via voice, video or text, such as tablets, laptops, smart watches, tablets and cellphones by students who are on MCPS property or engaged in MCPS-sponsored activities. This update to the regulation aligns guidelines with current best practices and, importantly, was developed collaboratively by a workgroup composed of staff, students and community members.
The revised guidelines indicate that personal mobile devices may be used:
- Before and after the school day (in all grades).
- On buses. Students riding to or from school or school-sponsored activities on MCPS or chartered buses may use personal mobile devices as long as the use does not impact the safe operation of the bus and complies with MCPS regulations.
- For instructional purposes determined by the individual school (middle and high school only).
- During lunch (allowed at high school, with permission at the middle school).
- During the transition between classes (high school only and with permission).
All exceptions for school-time use allows for student learning accommodations and differentiated use by identified school-level need, determined individually by schools and to support instruction.
“Updated guidance for cell phone and PMD use is important to advance our district’s priority of focusing on equitable teaching and learning,” said Superintendent Monifa B. McKnight. “We have to ensure that devices play an appropriate role in the instructional cycle, where the teacher determines what’s appropriate and not a distraction.”
The Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) applauds the changes. “Thank you to MCPS for involving multiple stakeholders, including students, cluster directors, parents and teachers,” said Lisa Cline, former chair of MCCPTA’s Safe Technology Committee. “The cellphone task force worked for years gathering feedback and studying the adverse effects phones in the class can have on academics and cyberbullying. The importance of removing cell phones and other devices that distract from the teacher and learning cannot be overstated.”
Evaluation of Guidelines: To ensure the effectiveness of the updated guidance for personal mobile devices, MCPS leadership will implement the following information-gathering timeline:
- First quarter—survey to all school principals.
- Second quarter–survey to students and staff.
- End of the year–a cross-functional team will be established to review information from the two surveys and determine if a recommendation for any change to the regulation should be considered.
Device Storage: Students are responsible for ensuring their devices are turned off and out of sight during times of unauthorized use and must ensure that they are managed securely at all times. MCPS assumes no responsibility or liability for loss, damage or theft of a device or for the unauthorized use of any personal device.
Important Legal Guidelines: Students must not use their device to communicate information that violates the privacy of others, jeopardizes the health or safety of others, is obscene or libelous, causes disruption of school activities, plagiarizes the work of others or is a commercial advertisement.