Embracing Focus: The Classical Academy's New Digital Health Policy

Posted by Tisha Harris on 10/3/2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, The Classical Academy takes pride in staying true to our founding values while embracing positive changes. This year, our updated cell phone policy reinforces our commitment to fostering an optimal learning environment for all our students.

The Journey to Enhanced Focus

Over the last decade, personal cell phones have been both a help and a challenge within our classrooms. While they have brought opportunities, they've also presented distractions that can impede the depth of learning and meaningful interactions. In light of this, the TCA Board, with valuable input from our school administration, has taken a countercultural stance. Starting this academic year, cell phones will not be permitted for use during school hours.

A Philosophy that Shapes Change

Our school's Core Values have always emphasized the mindful use of technology in education. Given the rising concerns highlighted by research regarding the impact of cell phones and social media on the learning process, we believe this policy change is a significant stride towards a more focused and enriched TCA experience.

Positive Transformations Await

The rationale behind this change is rooted in a deep understanding of the potential setbacks that excessive cell phone use can bring. While cell phones do provide benefits, we believe they are overshadowed by disruptions, reduced attention spans, and the impact on social and emotional well-being. Our new policy aims to address these concerns and offers numerous advantages:

  1. Diminished Distractions: By leaving cell phones secured and turned off during school hours, students can immerse themselves in their studies without the pull of digital distractions.
  2. Nurtured Relationships: Authentic connections thrive when students engage in face-to-face conversations, building meaningful relationships with peers and educators.
  3. Positive Mental Health: A break from constant screen exposure can contribute to healthier screen-time habits, reduce social media pressures, and support better mental well-being.
  4. Life Skills Cultivation: Learning to manage time and attention without relying on cell phones is a valuable life skill that prepares students for future success.

Practical Implementation

We understand that changes in our cell phone policy can raise questions. Starting from day one of the upcoming academic year, students are welcome to bring their cell phones to school. However, phones must be turned off and must be securely put away in lockers, backpacks, or bags during school hours. Students shall not access their phones from the start of classes until the student’s day is over (bell to bell). This policy ensures a focused and distraction-free classroom environment.

The full version of this policy can be found in JICJ-TCA-B Board Policy Regarding Student Use of Cell Phones.

Any consideration for medical exemptions should follow the processes outlined in JICJ-TCA-E Medical Exemption Form for Student Use of Cell Phones.

Navigating Disciplinary Measures

To ensure a smooth transition, we've designed a graduated response for infractions of the cell phone policy:

  1. 1st Offense: The student's phone will be held at the office, retrievable by the student at the end of the day.
  2. 2nd Offense: The phone will again be kept at the office, requiring parental retrieval at the day's end.
  3. 3rd Offense: Defiance will result in a one-day suspension.
  4. 4th Offense: Continued defiance will lead to a minimum three-day suspension.

Your school's administrator/principal may apply additional consequences based on individual circumstances.

Unity in Action

This policy underscores our commitment to classical, scholarly, and values-oriented education. It creates a daily "digital respite" that encourages emotional well-being, strong relationships, and unity among our students. These elements are essential for a wholesome educational experience that extends beyond the classroom.

We believe parental support at home will make this policy change more effective as well.

A Path to Growth

We acknowledge that introducing this cell phone policy is a significant change for our community. To facilitate this transition, formal appeals will be paused for the first six months after implementation, allowing us to make prudent adjustments and gather feedback. As always, we welcome community concerns or disputes at our Board of Directors meetings during Audience Comment sessions.

In closing, we extend our gratitude for your ongoing support and partnership. The Classical Academy is dedicated to nurturing a learning environment that uplifts our students, promotes growth, and fosters a genuine love for knowledge. As we embark on this journey together, we remain committed to providing a vibrant, distraction-free space where every student can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Digital Health