DC school using lockable pouches to keep students off cellphones during class

A D.C. public school is using lockable pouches to keep students off their phones during class time.

Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest D.C. became the first public school in the District to roll out the pilot program. Using Yondr pouches, school officials are looking to cut down on distractions in the classroom, which teachers have said is a constant battle.

When students arrive at math and science classes, they're required to put their phones in one of the magnetic pouches that automatically lock and stay locked after it closes.

It can only be opened at the end of class when the teacher comes around with an unlocking base, which, with a simple tap, opens the pouch.

Teachers said the process doesn't take away from class time which was a big concern for them initially.

"I've been pleasantly surprised at how willing the kids are to embrace it," math teacher Jeremy Singer said.

Similar pouches have been used at concerts and shows to prohibit fans from recording acts.

"There's really not that much tracking because we give the bag to the student, they put their own phone in it and keep it on them for the duration of the class period," principal Kimberly Martin explained. "It wasn't nearly as difficult as I imagined."

Yondr said it has partnered with 1,000 schools across the country including eight in the D.C. area.

A math teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School spearheaded the effort after using a Yondr pouch at a concert and was able to help secure grant funding for a nine-week pilot program. The school said it plans to expand as it will add another department every nine weeks until every class is cellphone free by the end of the year, according to Martin.

School officials noted that students are still permitted to use their phones during lunch and between classes.