SMITHFIELD, N.C. — For the last few years in
, schools had an unwritten policy prohibiting students from using cell phones in schools.
A new written policy bans cell phones from buildings before, during and after school.
At Smithfield-Selma Senior High School, cell phones are as common in book bags as paper and pencils.
"I just have it in case I need to use it. In case I need to call my mom," junior Anna Youngblood said.
Some students are calling for a less stringent rule.
"It's kind of harsh, I think. We do need our cell phones. We're high schoolers, it's a necessity to us," senior Lawrence Powers said.
The school board sees cell phones as a distraction in the classroom.
"This is a device that is used very frequently by everyone," said Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Crystal Roberts. "We wanted to make sure students could focus on learning."
Johnston County is not the only school system to address the cell phone issue. Wake County allows students to carry phones, they just cannot have them on.
"This policy is letting students, parents and teachers know we're very serious about the learning environment," Roberts said.
The new policy comes with tough penalties. After a first offense, phones are taken away. For a second offense, students face a 3-day suspension. A third offense carries a 10-day suspension.