Prince William Co. faculties to develop restrictions on scholar cellphone use

Prince William County Public Schools intends to develop its restrictions on cellphone utilization to all center and excessive faculties subsequent yr.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano speaks with Prince William County public faculty board chair Babur Lateef on the brand new telephone coverage for college kids

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The Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center serves as the executive workplace facility for Prince William County Schools. (Courtesy Prince William County Public Schools)

Prince William County Public Schools intends to develop its restrictions on cellphone utilization to all center and excessive faculties subsequent yr.

The enterprise — an enlargement of final yr’s pilot program proscribing telephone utilization in county faculties — comes as Gov. Glenn Youngkin is making “cellphone-free training” a precedence for his administration.

Youngkin issued an govt order Tuesday directing the Virginia Department of Education to draft steerage for all of Virginia’s public faculty divisions to undertake native insurance policies and procedures establishing cellphone-free studying.

Prince William County Public Schools was already planning to develop its “off and away” cellphone program it carried out in most center faculties final yr.

School programs throughout the area have begun implementing related insurance policies associated to smartphones. Loudoun, Fairfax and Stafford counties, together with the town of Fredericksburg, have all adopted some type of a cellphone ban.

Prince William School Board Chair Dr. Babur Lateef instructed InsideNoVa this week of the varsity division’s plans to develop the “off and away” program to all center and excessive faculties.

Although this system just isn’t an official coverage handed by the School Board, which is answerable for establishing coverage for the varsity division, Lateef stated Superintendent LaTanya McDade has requested all center and excessive faculties to undertake insurance policies much like final yr’s pilot program.

The initiative would require center faculty college students to have their cellphones turned off and put away for the whole faculty day, whereas highschool college students can be anticipated to have their telephones away throughout tutorial time.

Lateef stated it’s vital mother and father perceive their college students can’t be on their telephones. If mother and father have to get in contact with their baby, they need to undergo the executive workplace of their baby’s faculty, he added.

In the case of an emergency, nonetheless, Lateef stated college students will probably be allowed to make use of their telephone. “We’re going to make use of a commonsense method to this,” he stated.

Exceptions to the coverage may even be made for college kids with medical points or individualized training plans, Lateef stated.

Feedback from principals and oldsters throughout and after the center faculty pilot program final faculty yr was largely constructive, in accordance with the School Board chair.

“We have had no pushback from mother and father in any respect, and the faculties which have performed it this previous yr … the scholars have been fairly cooperative and it’s labored fairly good,” Lateef stated. “We proceed to obtain reviews that college students appear to be extra targeted, there’s much less distractions within the lecture rooms. The hallways are literally louder as a result of persons are speaking to 1 one other.”

Parents will probably be notified in August of the insurance policies and procedures for the upcoming yr, in accordance with Lateef, who has been vocal in his assist for a cellphone ban. Lateef’s feedback to InsideNoVa got here earlier than Youngkin introduced his new statewide coverage.

The faculty division and School Board wish to hear extra suggestions as this system expands earlier than probably setting it as an official coverage.

Although the varsity division already supposed to develop its cellphone pilot program, the governor’s govt order requires faculty programs to have cellphone insurance policies in place by Jan. 1.

It wasn’t instantly clear how the chief order impacts the varsity division’s plans for the autumn or whether or not the School Board might want to set an official coverage to fulfill the mandate.

Meghan Silas, a spokesperson for Prince William County Public Schools, instructed InsideNoVa the division is reviewing Youngkin’s order, issued Tuesday.

The govt order particularly cites the influence cellphone and social media utilization has been confirmed to have on each training and psychological well being.

“This important motion will promote a more healthy and extra targeted instructional surroundings the place each baby is free to study,” Youngkin stated in a information launch. “Creating cellphone and social media-free instructional environments in Virginia’s Okay-12 training system will profit college students, mother and father, and educators.”

Along with the chief order, the governor introduced Tuesday the Virginia Department of Education and the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services will make a mixed $500,000 accessible from current funds to assist implementation of the cellphone initiative.

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