Virginia’s school boards are considering the implementation of cellphone bans during regular school hours, with recent support from the state Senate. The legislation, which received a 36-3 vote, now awaits approval from the House of Delegates and Gov. Glenn Youngkin to take effect. Advocates argue that empowering school boards to develop policies against cellphone use could minimize disruptions and discourage harmful behaviors like recording fights for online dissemination.
Several Virginia school divisions, including Richmond City Schools, have already taken steps to limit cellphone use through pilot programs. However, opponents contend that the proposed legislation is redundant, as school boards already possess the authority to impose such restrictions. The Dillon Rule, governing local-state relations in Virginia, has contributed to confusion, with some believing they lacked the power to enact cellphone bans.
The proposed legislation seeks to provide clarity and encouragement for statewide action, emphasizing the need for a consistent approach. At the federal level, Congress is also exploring the possibility of cellphone restrictions during school hours. Senators Tim Kaine and Tom Cotton introduced a bill to study the effects of cellphone use in K-12 classrooms, including the creation of a $25 million, five-year pilot program to supply schools with secure containers for students to store phones during school hours.