FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The new cell phone policy of Fresno’s Bullard High School policy has been a source of controversy since it was first announced. The school is creating a “cell phone-free environment”, having students put their cell phones in pouches during school hours.

The Fresno Unified School District says they support this decision, despite not implementing this policy as a district, and that this is taking place in an effort to improve the learning environment, reduce classroom distractions and foster better relationships on campus.

On the other side of the argument, students believe this is a way to cover up incidents, like the one that happened several months ago when photos were circulated online showing a student in what looks like a makeshift KKK hood on campus.

Cell phones are a vital tool for students and parents to communicate with one another. There are many reasons why these are necessary for students to have. But in the confines of the classroom, should students have their phones?

According to a study by ZIPPA, on average, Americans check their phones 96 times a day or once every 10 minutes. High school students, spend a little over 6 hours a day in class give or take. This would mean that during the course of a school day a student may check their phone 36 times based on those numbers.

If students are checking their phones during instruction periods this would cause something called cognitive distraction. A study by Frontierin defines this as the user’s difficulty to process two or more types of information at the same time. A phone call, a text message, reminders, and social media can cause a lapse in attention, meaning they are missing out on instruction.

A larger distraction then arises as the student is now distracted by the thoughts of receiving a message, social media interaction, or phone call, even while trying to be engaged in class. The study says this can lead to a reduction in productivity and emotional well-being.

In a school district that has 38% reading proficiency, 30% math proficiency, and an average graduation rate of 86% (according to Niche), Fresno Unified administrators are keen to find ways to bring those numbers up. Removing cell phones, while controversial, is one way to attempt to remove a known distraction from the classroom environment.