Virginia on Tuesday joined a rising variety of states which can be pushing for cellphone restrictions in public colleges, citing considerations over college students’ tutorial achievement and psychological well being.

FILE – Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth tackle earlier than a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly, Jan. 10, 2024, on the Capitol in Richmond, Va. On Tuesday, July 9, Virginia joined a rising variety of states which can be pushing for cellphone bans in public colleges, citing considerations over college students’ tutorial achievement and psychological well being. Youngkin issued an government order to ascertain state steering and mannequin insurance policies for native college techniques to undertake by January. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)(AP/Steve Helber)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Virginia on Tuesday joined a rising variety of states which can be pushing for cellphone restrictions in public colleges, citing considerations over college students’ tutorial achievement and psychological well being.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an government order to ascertain state steering and mannequin insurance policies for native college techniques to undertake by January.

“Studies point out that college students who use their telephones throughout class study much less and obtain decrease grades,” Youngkin’s order said. It additionally cited an “alarming psychological well being disaster” amongst adolescents, which is partly pushed by cellphones and social media.

Last yr, Florida grew to become the primary state to crack down on phones in school with a brand new regulation. Indiana and Ohio handed their very own legal guidelines this yr, whereas a number of different states have lately launched what’s changing into often called “phone-free colleges” laws.

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that 76% of public colleges prohibited “non-academic mobile phone use” throughout the 2021-2022 college yr.

In Virginia, college districts have been more and more banning or severely proscribing college students’ cellphone use. For instance, Loudoun County Public Schools, in northern Virginia, handed a brand new coverage final month that usually bans elementary college college students from utilizing telephones throughout the college day.

Middle college college students are allowed to make use of their telephones earlier than or after college however in any other case are anticipated to retailer their telephones of their lockers. In highschool, college students are anticipated to silence their telephones and place them in a classroom cubby or storage location throughout educational time.

Dan Adams, a spokesman for Loudoun County Public Schools, mentioned the varsity system must wait and see what particular directives come from the state. But he mentioned the varsity system is “assured that our coverage is age-appropriate and addresses electronics-free educational time.”

The college board for Hanover County Public Schools, outdoors Richmond, has been targeted the problem at size in current months. And it deliberate to debate it at a Tuesday board assembly, assistant superintendent Chris Whitley mentioned.

In the state capital of Richmond, Youngkin’s order had the total assist of the superintendent of public colleges.

“We piloted a cellphone ban final yr in a few of our excessive colleges and center colleges, and we noticed extra pupil engagement in school and fewer distractions all through the day,” Jason Kamras mentioned. “On prime of that, college students reported spending extra time speaking with their friends.”

James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association, referred to as on the state “to method this challenge with a nuanced perspective.”

“Our precedence stays guaranteeing that insurance policies are sensible, enforceable and in the perfect curiosity of our educators, college students and households,” he mentioned in an announcement.

Youngkin’s order requires gathering public enter by listening periods, whereas different steps embrace establishing an in depth definition of “mobile phone free schooling.”

Todd Reid, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education, mentioned in an e mail that faculty divisions might want to undertake insurance policies by Jan. 1.

“In the authorized sense, consider ‘steering’ as a synonym for ‘rules,’” he wrote. “We will likely be going by the official regulatory course of.”

But government orders over native schooling coverage could be troublesome to implement.

Last yr, the Youngkin administration finalized rules outlining insurance policies for transgender college students, together with a rule that banned transgender women from collaborating on women’ sports activities groups. Some local school systems refused to adopt the regulations, criticizing them as discriminatory.

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Diaz reported from Washington. Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.

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