‘Away for a Day’: Scottsdale Unified implements cellphone policy, tracking app for parents

Aug 10, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 6:12 am

SUSD School Bus...

Scottsdale Unified School District bus (Facebook Photo/Chaparral High School SUSD)

(Facebook Photo/Chaparral High School SUSD)

SCOTTSDALE- School is back in session and one Valley school district has implemented new policies to cut down on distractions and keep track of students.  

For the 2023-2024 school year, the Scottsdale Unified School District has implemented the “Away for the Day” policy for students in Pre-K through 8th grade. The policy requires students to put their cellphones and smart watches away during school hours.  

This idea has been in the works for years, according to SUSD. 

Josh Freidman director of safety and security for the district, said the goal is to cut down on distractions in the classroom.  

“When kids have the phones out it’s always a distraction whether it’s to play a game, text a friend, look up random things,” Friedman said.  

He added the use of cellphones in schools at times has led to bullying.  

“If there’s a fight at school or something that is funny to one, but maybe embarrassing to others, kids will airdrop or take pictures and send it all over to people at the school,” Friedman said.  

New app helps parents keep track of kids

Parents can still contact their children despite the policy being in place. Freidman said parents can send their children a message, which they’ll see once school is out.  

“They can contact a student through the office, the way that it was prior to cellphones being so easily accessible for everybody,” Friedman said. 

Several middle schools piloted the “Away for a Day” program last school year.  

SUSD introduced a new app this year, which allows parents to track their children when on the school bus. The app is called Stopfinder which allows parents to know if their children are on the bus and when they got off the bus.  

Friedman explained students scan onto the buses with their district-issued identification cards.  

“The students scan to get on a bus and then the bus itself is tracked through the app, so you can tell when the bus is getting close to your stop and it then it also tracks when the student gets off the bus,” Friedman said.  

Friedman added the tool is essential for younger students who can easily miss or get confused about their stop.

ID scanning on the buses also helps the district provide more specific information on where a student might have last been seen if they do not come home.  

“We can actually say they got off the bus at this time and this location, which gives not only the district, but the parent and the police department somewhere to start searching as opposed to searching an entire bus route,” Friedman said.  

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‘Away for a Day’: Scottsdale Unified implements cellphone policy, tracking app for parents