School changes policy to help parents get in touch with students sooner during severe weather

Posted on: 5:22 pm, August 21, 2014, by

MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – Imagine your child being in the path of destruction and not being able to get a hold of them.

For Lany Cox, that nightmare was a reality.

“Sitting at home, knowing a tornado is heading that direction, where both of my children could have been in the line. The worse thing ever,” Cox said.

Her daughter’s daycare was destroyed by the tornado that hit Moore on May 20, 2013.

It took Cox an hour before she knew her child was alright.

However, she thinks some of that worry could have been avoided with a cell phone.

“If that had happened at, you know, at our oldest’s school or even the elementary school now, it would be nice to have a text message,” Cox said. “Nobody could get through on the phone, but being able to get a text message to say, ‘Yes I’m okay.”

Moore Public Schools enlisted a new policy that could help in that situation.

The district announced that students are allowed to have cell phones in the classroom with a few restrictions.

Phones must be left on silent once students are in the building and teachers have the authority to either allow them or ban them during class.

Previously, mobile devices had to be left in a locker.

“We have a bunch of kids who are, of course, a little more sensitive to the fact that we’ve had a disaster here. And to be able to write in some guidelines that kids might be facing a little bit of stress related to the weather, why not be able to reach out and tell their parents they’re doing okay?” said Joseph Ross, assistant principal of Brink Junior High.

Officials say it can also be an educational tool for teachers.

“We have mobile laptops that kids could be using and utilizing in the classroom that we’re not taking advantage of,” Ross said.

“Say the kids need to know a math vocabulary term, they can get out their phone, look it up on dictionary.com, and I don’t have to make sure we have enough dictionaries for everyone to look stuff up,” Amanda Tyner, teacher at Brink Junior High School said.

Both teachers and principals agree phones can be distracting, but say it’s like any other distraction.

“There’s no difference in a kid that talks all the time in class or a cell phone that goes off in class. You would treat it the same way,” Ross said.