MANHATTAN — The Department of Education lifted its longstanding ban on cellphones in public schools Monday.
For the vast majority of students, it was business as usual since most kids — including Mayor Bill de Blasio's son, Dante, who attends the elite Brooklyn Tech high school — were quietly bringing their phones to class already.
But for those students at the roughly 80 school buildings with metal detectors, it was a big change: They no longer had to pay bodegas or other businesses about $1 a day to store their phones before they entered their schools.
"I took a selfie," said Jeffrey Sanchez, 15, a tenth-grader at the School of Language and Diplomacy at the Washington Irving campus at 40 Irving Place, which has metal detectors. Sanchez said his mother was relieved by the new policy because it saves him $1 a day.
Some teens said their parents were concerned that phones would be a distraction from their studies.
Amanda Ojeda, 15, a ninth-grader at Gramercy Arts, another school at 40 Irving Place, said her mother is "OK with" the new cellphone policy.
"She's just more concerned about, like, am I still going to be focused in class," Ojeda said. But she added that it felt like a "regular" Monday, even with the new cellphone policy.
"I think the teachers are still going to be on top of it," she said.
The Department of Education gave schools two months to develop a policy with teachers and parents on where and how students can use their phones in schools before Monday's official lifting of the ban. It was up to individual schools to decide, for example, whether students would be able to use their mobile devices during lunch or in designated areas.
"We're allowed to use our phones, but only in the cafeteria during lunch and breakfast," Sanchez said. "It's supposed to be in your bag at all [other] times, turned off so it doesn't ring.
"If a teacher sees you using it, they can take it away," Sanchez added, "but they'll probably give you a warning first."
Principals at the schools in the Washington Irving campus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
For schools that didn't create their own policies, the default rule is to allow students to bring cellphones into the building but to keep them out of sight during the school day, DOE officials said when announcing the changes in January.
Students who violate cellphone policies could have their phones confiscated, officials said.
"If you misuse it, you lose it," de Blasio said in January. "We believe we can set up clear boundaries and checks and balances to make sure this works."
Many parents, including the mayor, have said they want their children to bring cellphones to school for safety reasons.
The ban, which had been enforced since 2006, disproportionately burdened students who attended schools with metal detectors, many advocates and parents said.
Members of the Parents Union, a grassroots group of families from across the city, applauded the change.
"As parents, we will feel more comfortable knowing we can keep in contact with our children while they are commuting to school," the group said in a statement, adding, "We hope Chancellor Fariña will encourage all schools to notify parents via backpack of their cellphone policy and post their policy on their school websites."