One of the newest crazes among kids, stretchy rubber bands that double as bracelets, are in some cases being deemed too distracting for school.
Silly Bandz, in the shape of everything from dinosaurs to pop sensation Justin Beiber, fill some students’ arms by the dozens. Through trade deals, a student might swap a bright orange dragon for a green mummy, for example — but it’s the sort of thing that can get in the way of learning, some school leaders believe.
“We decided last week that they were becoming a distraction to the learning environment,” said Lisa Jones, the principal of Cale Elementary School in Albemarle County. “And we just asked parents [for] their cooperation.”
Cale parents are being urged to tell their children not to bring them to class.
“When you think about a distraction to the learning environment, it’s through a multitude of things, whether that is arguing over them, [trade deals or] people accusing other students of stealing their Silly Bandz,” Jones said.
Jones said it’s the school’s responsibility to protect a strong learning environment, adding that there have been concerns with teachers having to divert attention from teaching to deal with issues caused by the Silly Bandz.
Many schools throughout the country have banned the bands.
Albemarle school communications coordinator Maury Brown said she knows of no other school in Albemarle prohibiting Silly Bandz. The division generally leaves it to individual schools to decide what items are too distracting to be brought to school, she said.
“It depends on the school or the classroom,” Brown said, adding that what some schools find distracting others might not.
The Charlottesville school division has a policy similar to Albemarle’s.
“We always give prinicipals the perogative to address distractions to learning,” said Charlottesville schools spokeswoman Cass Cannon, adding that there are no plans to ban Silly Bandz division-wide.
Burnley-Moran Elementary School leaders have asked parents to keep the Silly Bandz at home, and Johnson Elementary is asking that students with Silly Bandz keep them out of classrooms, such as by storing them in their bookbags.
Emily Gardiner, a junior at Monticello High School, said she suspects Silly Bandz have quickly grown in popularity because “people just think they’re cute.”
They’re seen on high school students, she said, but are more popular among elementary and middle school students, adding that she’s seen some young kids with a slew of them, and some kids sport them on necklaces.
Around Emily’s wrist at the Downtown Mall on Monday was a glow-in-the-dark mermaid band, which someone gave her, along with a dinosaur one she found on the ground. Though she hasn’t seen Silly Bandz as a distraction for high school students, she does understand how they might become problematic for elementary school students, adding that she still finds it “kind of ridiculous” that some schools are banning them.
Jones said Cale students who wear Silly Bandz to class could be asked to put them in their bookbags, and if they don’t, the Bandz could be temporarily confiscated.
“We’re not going to make a big deal about it,” Jones said. “The bottom line is that we have a lot of things we need to focus on at Cale. Silly Bandz are a craze right now, we recognize that. … I wish I would have been the marketing genius that had come up with them, but we’re basically going to ask students if they have them, put them away.”