The ETHS campus.

The cell phone may be a teenager’s best friend, but those best friends had better be silent and invisible during classes this year at Evanston Township High School.

In his first “Wildkit Way” podcast of the school year, new superintendent Marcus Campbell said that cell phones will have to be “off and put away” while students are in the classroom.

Campell said that announcement drew “applause” from parents and teachers at a recent ETHS open house.

New principal Taya Kinzie added that students these days seem “tethered to their phones,” so parents are being asked to “reinforce” message to their teens of no cell phones in class.

The student/family handbook says in dark print that “Cell phones are to be turned off, put away, and not used in academic space (classroom/labs) without permission of the teacher or school staff.”

A buzzing or ringing cell phone can be distracting, interrupting instruction. A teenager looking at a cell phone, or posting on social media, is not paying attention to the teacher. And, at least in theory, the cell phone could become the current day version of passing notes in class as a way of cheating.

The phones are also must be turned off and put away while in the Dean’s office.

Student cell phone usage is allowed “in hallways between classes, in cafeterias during lunch blocks, and in The Hub,” a student resource center.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. I agree with the new cell phone guidelines at E.T.HS. This should have been implemented years ago. Very distracting for teachers and classroom interruptions.

    This policy should be implemented in all schools.

  2. At my nephew’s school, Oak Park River Forest High School, students must check their phones into a numbered pocket chart called a “phone home” when they enter every classroom, and they pick them up on the way out.

  3. While I applaud this move and wonder why it hasn’t been implemented before I wonder what the consequences are for students who violate the policy. Will there actually be consequences? Detention? Will the school administrators actually back up and support teachers who have students refusing to follow this newly implemented policy?

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