Pokemon STOP: Schools say put your phone away

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Pokemon GO doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and now it's causing safety concerns for Kansas school districts.

The popular phone app allows users to capture virtual creatures. The game uses cell phone GPS coordinates to make the Pokemon creatures appear in various locations, called "Pokestops." Some Kansas schools have been listed as stops for the game's users.

With the popularity of the game, school officials and teachers are looking for creative ways to use the app in the classroom.

"Our high school students have a phone, it's a way of their life," said USD 437 Superintendent Scott McWilliams. "We try to embrace that, as opposed to put restrictions on them while their here. We want this to be a fun, engaging place to learn."

Despite educational opportunities, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) is warning districts that the game could pose a threat to student safety by drawing in unwanted visitors if the school is selected as a Pokestop.

"Even though it's an exciting new thing, we want districts to take a little bit of caution," said Kansas Association of School Board Policy Specialist and Attorney, Angela Stallbaumer.

The KASB recommends that districts ask to be removed as a Pokestop. Despite the warning, Stallbaumer said she doesn't know of any districts that have successfully been removed as a Pokestop.

Some school officials say that the game has not been an issue, so far.

"It hasn't been a high emphasis at this time in our school community," said McWilliams. "As situations come to us, we'll visit with our administrators, we'll visit with our staff, we'll visit with our teachers and certainly do everything we can to make sure that we have a safe environment for each of our students."

A spokesperson for the Topeka School District echoed McWilliams' comment and said they have no plans to address the game at this point.