Last week, as many families started their summer routines, a letter went out to students and parents in RSU 1, detailing a change to the upcoming year's cell phone and smart watch policy.

The change was proposed based on a number of recent studies regarding adolescent mental health and learning patterns, and was voted on by the RSU School Board on June 24th. The School Board has been researching the issue for some time, citing these links for parents to check out, as to why they made the changes to the police.

Photographer:Julia Sudnitskaya
Photographer:Julia Sudnitskaya

The long and short of it, students in grades 6 through 12 will be prohibited from using their cell phones or smart watches during regular school hours.

The new protocol document which went out to families explained why the change was made:

"In an effort to create a learning environment that promotes greater academic engagement, reduces non-academic distractions, and supports student mental health, Regional School Unit 1 has created a school board-approved plan that is funded through a federal grant, ARP, to eliminate the use of cell phones and smartwatches during the school day for grades 6-12...Many scientists have been studying why teenagers are more anxious, distracted, and have higher rates of mental illnesses than ever before.  Their analysis shows that screen time and social media use negatively impact the mental well-being of students."

Close Up Of A Line Of High School Students Using Mobile Phones

School officials say the move was made as a way to help student "flourish" in the upcoming school year, both in academic and with their mental health.

The schools in RSU 1 are not the only Maine schools limiting the use of smart devices during school hours or on school grounds. According to the Maine Principals' Association, there are many schools that have either a "no cell phone" policy on the books, or a limited/restricted use during the day.

Consequences for cell phone use at undesignated times or without permission vary from school to school. Some issue written warnings and detentions, some (in extreme cases of repeated offense) list suspension as the ultimate punishment.

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You can check out the list of schools and what each of their policies are, by clicking here.

At schools in RSU 1, cell phones brought to school will be locked in special pouches, issued to them much like a laptop would be. At the end of the day, they would be able to retrieve their phones from the pouches, after swiping it through a magnetic locking station at the main entrance.


The change in cell phone policy at RSU 1 will take affect at the beginning of the 2024/2025 school year.

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