As students entered Amy Habberstad’s South Anchorage High School English class on Monday, they were told to bring their cellphones to the front of the room and place each one in a holder with dozens of designated pockets.

South High has implemented new rules when it comes to using cellphones and other electronics in class.

Principal Luke Almon says phones are an easy distraction from schoolwork and just about every student has one. Last semester, administrators decided something needed to be done.

“We are trying to figure out a way to teach kids more appropriate use of cellphones,” Almon said.

The new rules align with the district’s policy and are explained on signs in every classroom at South.

The signs indicate red versus green status. Red means no devices or headphones may be used in class. Green means they’ll be allowed for curricular purposes only, such as research or multimedia projects.

“I’m always going to have this arrow pointing either to red or green every day to let you know what's appropriate phone usage,” Habberstad told her class.

“I don't think it's a good idea to try to completely eliminate the distraction as much as it is to teach students how to use those things to their benefit and not get distracted and experience the kind of negative consequences that go with that,” Almon said.

School administrators hope the new policy will remind students how to be good communicators, work efficiently and be aware of their surroundings.

“I think what we'll do from now until the end of the semester is we'll just take feedback from both students and teachers, and parents even, to see how this is working both inside the school and maybe even how it would work at home to have a common language for how cellphones are used,” Almon said.

Some students say they don’t like the policy and were quick to point out issues.

“I don't agree with it all that much because the signs are small, you can't really tell when the policy is being implemented,” senior Olivia Carman said.

Others hope if they give up their phone in class, their teachers will make changes too.

“I think kids are just going to be, like, a little iffy about it and they don't want to do it, but I think if the teachers start to really communicate with kids more and interact with us even more, I think students will start to pay attention and I think it will go smooth,” junior Loke Iese said.

It will be up to each teacher to decide if and how cellphones will be allowed to be used in their classrooms.

“We are going to be on red every single day until we are good at being on red and then we will sort of negotiate what green looks like as a class,” Habberstad told her class.

Administrators say a student's phone will not be taken away if they are caught using it when they are not supposed to. However, ignoring the new policy could land students in detention.

Last year, Lumen Christi High School banned all cellphone use for students during school hours.

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