September 28, 2022

Revised personal mobile device policy in place for MCPS students

Correction (09/15/2022): The quote from Lisa Cline, former Chair of the MCCPTA Safe Technologies Committee published as representing the views of the larger MCC-PTA was made in error. The opinions expressed here are his own.

The Montgomery County School Board has approved a revised policy (COG-RA) regarding student possession and use of personal mobile devices on school property and during MCPS-sponsored activities. Approved in May, the settlement establishes procedures for the 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, laptop computers, smart watches, tablets, and cell phones by students who are on MCPS property or engaged in MCPS-sponsored activities. This update to the regulations aligns the guidelines with current best practices and, importantly, was developed collaboratively by a working group comprised of employees, students, and community members.

The revised guidelines state that personal mobile devices may be used:

  • Before and after the school day (in all classes).
  • In the buses. Students traveling to or from school or school-sponsored activities on MCPS or charter buses may use personal mobile devices as long as the use does not affect the safe operation of the bus and is complies with MCPS regulations.
  • For educational purposes determined by each school (middle and high school only).
  • During lunch (authorized in high school, with authorization in college).
  • During the transition between classes (high school only and with permission).

All exceptions for the use of school time allow for learning accommodations for students and differentiated use based on identified school-level needs, determined by individual schools, and to support instruction.

“Updated guidance for the use of cell phones and PMDs is important in advancing our district’s priority of focusing on equitable teaching and learning,” Superintendent Monifa B. McKnight said. “We need to ensure that devices play an appropriate role in the teaching cycle, where the teacher determines what is appropriate and not a distraction.”

“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 Cell Phone Task Force has worked for years collecting feedback and studying the adverse effects that classroom phones can have on academics and cyberbullying. The importance of removing cell phones and other devices that distract from teaching and learning cannot be overstated.

Please note:

Guidelines Assessment: To ensure the effectiveness of the updated guidelines for personal mobile devices, MCPS management will implement the following information collection schedule:

  • First quarter—survey of all principals.
  • Second term–student and staff survey.
  • At the end of the year, a cross-functional team will be assembled to review the information from both surveys and determine if a recommendation for rule changes should be considered.

Device Storage: Students are responsible for ensuring that their devices are turned off and out of sight during periods of unauthorized use and must ensure that they are safely managed at all times. MCPS assumes no responsibility for loss, damage or theft of a device or for the unauthorized use of any personal device.

Important Legal Guidelines: Students should not use their device to communicate information that violates the privacy of others, threatens the health or safety of others, is obscene or defamatory, disrupts school activities, plagiarizes the work of others, or constitutes commercial advertising.

See Regulation COG-RA: Personal Mobile Devices.

See a leaflet explaining the rules.