Yondr discontinued for next school year

Max Karp

Yondr bags will not be returning to Wilson next year after the PTSO discontinued funding. Wilson could have used their own funds to continue the program, but chose not to.

At the beginning of the school year, Principal Kimberly Martin announced that Wilson was instituting the Yondr bag system at the school in order to reduce student phone use in class. In the first advisory, the bags were utilized in science and math classes, with English and foreign language classes following suit in the second advisory, before social studies completed the full immersion in the third advisory.

The adoption of the Yondr system was followed by a serious breakdown in the condition of individual Yondr bags. A Beacon study found that after the first advisory, one third of all Yondr bags had been broken, with the destruction being attributed to student vandalism and overuse.

Yondr placed no restriction on the number of bags that would be available for the school and replaced many of the broken bags that Wilson was responsible for.

Wilson faculty had mixed opinions on the Yondr bags. English teacher Lauren Hartshorn noted that “general attention was higher [with the Yondr bags], especially at the start of class.” Science teacher William Gomaa added that, after the initial backlash against the system, students began “following the Yondr procedures” and “everybody [was] on board.”

Science teacher Poonam Sharma thought Yondr bags significantly reduced phone use in class: “I think Yondr worked, at least in my class. Having the phones locked and at the front of class made people less distracted, and I would rather keep the policy than get rid of it.”

Other staff members were not as supportive of the system. Science teacher Angela Benjamin, in response to the overwhelming number of broken bags, decided to stop using the system altogether in her various classes.

Each classroom came with a Yondr pouch that was to be hung on a wall, where the individual bags would be placed. For ease of use and efficiency, many teachers allowed their students to keep their Yondr’ed phones at their desks. Due to lack of strict enforcement, students found loopholes, such as putting a phone case in the Yondr bag instead of a phone, or simply telling a teacher that their phone was left at home.

The end of the Yondr era has been met with indifference feelings from students. “I honestly don’t think it’ll make much of a difference,” junior Dylan Blumenthal said. “In my experience, they weren’t very well enforced this year.”

Others echoed Blumenthal’s sentiments. “When I actually Yondr-ed my phone, I did the same amount of work [in class] as I did when I didn’t Yondr it,” sophomore Jose Najera said.

While Yondr bags won’t be required next school year, some teachers are going to continue to use similar methods to prevent cell phone use in class.

“I’m planning on just keeping the pockets that were for the Yondr bags and making students leave their phones inside of them at the beginning of class,” said Math teacher Emily Farrar.

While Yondr will be gone, a cell phone restriction policy will remain in place. Martin is planning on using cell phone pockets or other collection devices to moderate student in-class phone use.