Virginia Governor Issues Order to Restrict Cell Phones in Schools – NBC4 Washington

Virginia Governor Issues Order to Restrict Cell Phones in Schools – NBC4 Washington

Public school students in Virginia may be banned from using cell phones during class in the coming months.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order Tuesday to implement “cellphone-free education,” a move he said is aimed at improving the mental health and safety of young people.

The Republican governor’s order directs the Virginia Department of Education to develop policies and procedures for age-based restrictions or eliminating cellphones in the classroom for grades K-12, Youngkin’s administration said in a news release Tuesday. The order also calls on the VDOE to create a plan for parents to contact their children during emergencies and “other important situations.”

“Today’s executive order sets the clear goal of protecting the health and safety of our students by limiting the time they spend on addictive cell phones and social media and eliminating obvious distractions in the classroom,” Youngkin said in the press release.

Parents, students, teachers, school leaders and stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide their input to the VDOE before it publishes a draft of its guidelines on 15 August. This will be followed by a feedback period before the department finalises its guidelines in September.

The new policy won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2025, Youngkin’s office said.

“The more we learn, the more we know that too much screen time — and especially time spent on addictive apps — is harmful to children’s physical and mental health,” Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Janet Kelly said in Tuesday’s news release.

Kelly cited U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s recent call for Congress to require tobacco-style warnings for users of social media platforms. Murthy said the mental health crisis among young people is a pressing issue, with social media “being a major contributor.”

According to the American Psychological Association, teens spend nearly five hours a day on platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

Youngkin’s office said the VDOE and the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services (DBDHS) will provide $500,000 from existing funds to carry out the order.