Youngkin orders Virginia schools to go cellphone-free

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on Tuesday ordered schools in his state to go cellphone-free, as similar bans on technology take hold in schools across the country.

Youngkin issued the executive order directing the Virginia Department of Education to draft guidance for public schools to adopt cellphone-free policies. The department will also work with teachers, parents, students and other leaders to create procedures “that establish the age-appropriate restriction or elimination of cell phone use during instructional time.”

The goal of the order is to limit the amount of time students are “exposed to addictive cell phones and social media” and to reduce distractions in the classroom, Youngkin said in a statement.

“This essential action will promote a healthier and more focused educational environment where every child is free to learn. Creating cell phone and social media-free educational environments in Virginia’s K-12 education system will benefit students, parents, and educators,” Youngkin said.

“It also kicks off the robust conversations among parents, students, teachers, and school and community leaders necessary to design and implement these policies and procedures at the local level,” he added.

The Virginia Department of Education has until Aug. 15 to publish their draft guidance and will issue its final guidance in September. School districts will need to adopt the cellphone-free policies by Jan. 1, 2025.

Youngkin’s order comes weeks after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy sounded the alarm again on the risks social media can pose to adolescents. Murthy warned in a separate advisory last year that social media is contributing to the youth mental health crisis.

Virginia is just the latest to implement a cellphone ban in schools. New York City is looking to ban cellphones in schools, while the Los Angeles school district approved a cellphone measure last month. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also said last month that he supported restricting cellphone use in schools.

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