SIKESTON - Most area schools have rules against bringing cell phones to school.
According to the Sikeston R-6 district handbook, students aren't to bring cell phones - in addition to other electronic devices - "to any school facility on school grounds or to a school-sponsored event during the school day."
Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller said,"You don't want those interrupting the educational climate - you're here to learn, not to talk on the phone."
However, these rules are taken loosely and staff doesn't search for phones. At Kelly Middle School, officials have eased the rules and allow students to bring cell phones, as long as they are kept in book bags and turned off or to a silent ring.
"More or less it's a thing where we've realized that the times are changing," said Mark Kiehne, middle school principal. "The rules still do say not to have them, but we're understanding."
Kiehne said although school phones are available for students to make phone calls, cell phones are beneficial for them to call their parents if they need to stay late for practice or tutoring or be picked up earlier than anticipated.
New Madrid County Middle School officials share the same idea. "We don't go looking around for them at all," said Assistant Principal Scott Kruse. But, if the phones will ring during class, administration takes the phone for the rest of the year, or until a parent comes in to pick it up.
And sometimes parents don't bother to retrieve the phones. Kruse said he has five on his desk and there are more.
Distractions at Kelly are handled on a case-by-case basis., depending on the level of disruption. "Sometimes (the student) forgets to turn it off in the morning," Kiehne said.
Disciplinary actions range from warnings to the phone being taken for the day or until parents get it. But that is a problem Kiehne rarely faces.
"We've never had a problem with a malicious attempt to be sneaky or get away with something," Kiehne said. "So far it seems like warnings have been the big thing."