New York City lifts its blanket ban on cellphones in schools

New York City kids may be reluctantly heading back to school this week, but they just got some (mostly) good news. As promised during Mayor Bill de Blasio's election campaign, the city's Department of Education is lifting its outright ban on cellphones in schools. The New York Times understands that principals (with help from parents and teachers) will decide just when and where students can break out their phones. By default, kids will be allowed to keep their phones around so long as they're hidden. If schools want, though, they can require that young learners drop cellphones off in a designated place. They can also give permission to use phones at certain places and times, such as outside during lunch breaks.

There are already concerns that kids will use their gadgets to cheat on tests, or that the devices will encourage distractions, theft and on-camera fighting. De Blasio, however, has argued that it's important for parents to get in touch with their children. Also, the Department may simply be accepting a practical reality by lifting the ban. Many students bring their phones to class anyway, and schools have sometimes ignored the restrictions so long as pupils aren't chatting during lessons -- there's not much point to a ban that's only loosely enforced at best.

[Image credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images]