BCHS Yondr – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The information below was updated on May 30, 2023.

In 2023-24, Bethlehem Central High School will increase efforts to become a phone-free learning environment. Learn more about Yondr pouches below: 

What is a Yondr pouch?

The Yondr Pouch is a secure bag that is used to store an individual’s mobile device or devices. It is secured and unlocked with a special magnetic locking device.

yondr pouch diagram use

Why is the school introducing Yondr pouches?

The high school is seeking to limit distractions in the classroom and improve overall student engagement, mental health and well-being.

How will students receive a Yondr pouch?

In September 2023, all students in grades 9-12 will be assigned a Yondr pouch to secure their phone and/or smartwatch. The pouch is the property of the school and is considered on loan to the student during the school year. Students are responsible for the Yondr pouch at all times and for bringing the pouch to and from school each day and keeping them in good condition.

How will the process work at arrival and dismissal?

Upon entering school, students will turn their phone off, place the phone inside of the Yondr pouch, and lock it in front of the designated staff. The pouches will be unlocked at the end of the school day at several designated locations within the building.

How is the “end of the day” defined?

The end of the day is 2:07 p.m. Students who leave school before 2:07 will be able to unlock their phones as they leave.

My student attends BOCES CTE classes where Yondr pouches are not required. What will the process be for these students?

Students who attend BOCES CTE classes in the afternoon will be able to unlock their devices when they leave the high school. Those who attend morning CTE classes will have to lock their devices upon arrival to the high school.

Will my student’s phone be safe?

Phones never leave the possession of the students.

Will my student still be able to listen to music?

Students will be able to use headphones with cords to connect to their Chromebooks. They will be able to use the headphones for classroom work or for listening to music during free periods. All Bluetooth devices, including AirPods, smartwatches and other headphones, must be stored in the Yondr pouch.

What if a student needs to leave the building before regular dismissal?

If a student needs to leave school early for an approved early dismissal, medical emergency, work assignment, athletic event, or other school-sponsored trip, students will be able to unlock their devices at school just prior to their departure. If returning to school during the instructional day, the Yondr pouch would be locked upon re-entry to the building. 

What if a parent or guardian needs to reach their child during the school day?

We understand that emergencies will occur. Parents may contact the main office at 518-439-4921 to speak with their child if the need arises. Also, high school students are able to receive email from outside the school district and have access to their Chromebooks throughout the day. Parents can email their students directly in addition to calling the school when time is of the essence. Students can communicate with one another using their Chromebooks as well.

What happens if there is an emergency at school?

Every location in the high school is equipped with a phone that can dial 911. Our staff is trained to execute safety and emergency procedures. Students will follow the school’s emergency procedures in the case of an emergency. Schools will communicate with parents through the district’s mass notification and communication tools.

What if a student does not comply or damages the locked case to access their phone?

Students who are found to unlock the pouches, cause damage to the pouch, or use an alternate phone will be subject to disciplinary action.

What happens if a student doesn’t have their Yondr Pouch?

The phone will be turned over to main office staff and secured in the school, safe until the end of the school day. At the end of the school day, students will retrieve their phone by showing their school ID.

What if a student needs their personal device for a medical issue?

Students who have a documented medical condition and who need a personal device for monitoring their condition will be provided with a non-locking Yondr pouch that has a velcro seal.

How will students be able to contact families if there is a lockdown or active shooter situation?

Students and staff at all schools practice lockdown drills four times a year. Students and staff are instructed to be silent during a lockdown. The response action guidelines outlined in the high school’s building-level safety plan has a community notification plan for all emergency situation. This notification plan includes first and foremost, parents and guardians of students in the building.

What if my child is at school and needs to call 911?

Every classroom is equipped with a phone that can dial 911. There are no codes or prefix needed to dial outside of the district. Anyone can dial direct.

Why can’t the school just implement a zero-tolerance policy and allow students to keep their phones put away?

The school introduced the use of phone sleeves last year in an attempt to limit cell phone use in the classroom. However, enforcement of this practice becomes the burden of classroom teachers when students do not comply and valuable instruction time is lost as these issues are addressed. 

Requiring students to lock their phones away seems like a punishment for high school students. Is this the case?

The introduction of Yondr is not a punitive measure. The intention of Yondr is three-fold:

  • to create classroom environments where teachers can teach and students can learn free from distractions caused by the personal use of devices; 
  • to reduce the negative impacts for ALL students of inappropriate use of devices at school, such as cyberbullying, exposure to harmful content, and incidents involving mobile phones that detract from a healthy school climate; and
  • to increase meaningful face-to-face connections between students.

Are students able to use their Chromebooks to email outside of bethlehemschools.org?

Currently, students in grades 9-12 can email outside the district and will continue to have access to do so. Lower grades will not have this ability. All district email is filtered and monitored.

Will students be able to put their personal email accounts on the district-owned Chromebooks?

No. Students will only be able to use their bethlehemschools.org accounts on district-owned devices. All devices and networks owned by the district are monitored.

How much will Yondr cost?

The cost for 2023-24 is $26,773. This includes 1,400 pouches, costs associated with implementation (Yondr sends staff to assist with training and initial distribution), accessories including unlocking bases, replacement pouches, any product upgrades and a full year of customer service.

Why is there an annual cost associated with Yondr?

The pouches are leased so there is an annual cost associated with the lease. When the pouches are distributed, the pouches are marked with the students’ names. As a result, each year pouches will be needed for a new cohort of students and replacement pouches for those that may have been lost or damaged will need to be purchased.

Will teachers be using the Yondr pouches as well?

All teachers and staff at the high school will be provided a Yondr pouch with a velcro closure . Teachers and staff will be encouraged to model responsible cell phone use for students.

If a student forgets to unlock the pouch before leaving the building, is there a way for students to unlock the pouch – ie an unlock station outside the school building?

There will not be an unlocking station outside the building. If the student forgets to unlock their pouch, they will be able to return to school before the last late bus departs to unlock it.

What if there is a building-wide emergency and students are unable to return to the building, how will they open their Yondr pouch?

There will be mobile unlocking devices available for these types of circumstances. 

If the Yondr pouch is stolen/lost who is responsible for replacement?

Students will ultimately be responsible for the care of their Yondr pouch. If a student intentionally damages the pouch, they will be responsible for replacement and may face disciplinary consequences. If a student loses their pouch, the district may replace the pouch free of charge in the first instance only and introduce a sliding scale for replacement costs for subsequent losses. As the new school year gets underway, the district will provide families and students with replacement protocols.

Will each teacher be able to unlock the pouches in the event of an active shooter in the building or a lockdown due to swatting?

No. Individual teachers will not be able to unlock the pouches.

How many Yondr stations will there be and where will they be located?

Staff from Yondr will be visiting the district in May to determine the most appropriate locations in the school for the unlocking devices. Safety, efficiency and effectiveness will be top priorities in locating the unlocking devices. Yondr staff will also be on site for the first few days of the new school year to help troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Do the Yondr pouches block cell signals or internet?

Yondr pouches do not block cell signals or the internet. The company is looking at upgrading pouches to include RFID chips that could enable blocking, however, that technology is currently not available with Yondr.

How will students know whose Yondr pouch is whose?

When the school year begins, the pouches will be distributed and each high school student will be required to put their name on their pouch as it is handed to them. Staff from Yondr will work with school administrators to ensure a smooth distribution process. Students will keep their pouches with them at all times.

What tools will the school use to help gauge effectiveness of the Yondr pouches?

The district will use quantitative and qualitative data to assess the effectiveness of Yondr in improving the student experience. This includes School Climate Survey data, PASS survey data, Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, discipline referrals, as well as faculty and staff feedback.

Will other schools in the district be using Yondr pouches?

No. The K-8 policy regarding cell phones is that all student cell phones or personal devices must be kept at home, in a locker, or backpack from the start of the school day until the end.  This includes School Climate Survey data, PASS survey data, Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, discipline referrals, as well as faculty and staff feedback.

What was the decision-making process and stakeholder engagement regarding Yondr?

For the last three years, district administrators and building leaders have been working to find the most effective way to reduce student cell phone use at the high school. In 2021-22, the high school introduced classroom sleeves for students to store their cell phones.  In spring 2022, the district began to look at Yondr as a better solution to meet the needs of students.

Stakeholder engagement is ongoing. On November 1, 2022, Yondr was part of the Superintendent’s Student Safety Forum for parents and guardians. That event included an open Q & A session with 10 panelists. Following that meeting, student government representatives, teachers, district administrators and school administrators visited Schoharie High School to see Yondr being used in a high school setting.  Others consulted included school officials in Chicopee, MA, Greece, NY, Commerce, MA, and Providence RI. Teachers at the high school and the BCTA have been involved in conversations about Yondr throughout the 2022-23 school year. Members of the district’s President’s Council, which includes representatives from PTAs/PTOs across the district, were presented with information about Yondr in early March.

In March, Yondr was added to budget presentations, as an additional expense expected for the 2023-24 school year.

The school had planned to pilot the Yondr pouches in late spring 2023 but delayed implementation due to concerns regarding AP exam schedules. A final decision to implement Yondr for the 2023-24 school year was made on May 3, 2023. Information, including a Q &A document, was sent immediately to high school families explaining the program. Feedback was requested and the Q & A document has been updated twice, on May 15 and on May 25.

Meetings with students in grades 9-11 were held May 23-25 at the high school. Subsequent meetings with students in grade 8 will be held at the middle school.

The information above doesn’t answer my questions. How can I submit a question about Yondr pouches?

The Yondr FAQs will be updated as the implementation gets underway in 2023-24. If you have a question regarding the implementation of Yondr pouches at the high school, email districtoffice@bethlehemschools.org.