Governor Glenn Youngkin Signs Executive Order for Cellphone-free Education in Virginia Schools

Virginia will soon issue guidelines limiting or prohibiting student cell phone use during school hours. On Tuesday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued Executive Order 33, directing his administration to establish cell phone-free policies and procedures for school divisions in response to concerns about children’s health and academic performance.

According to the governor’s directive, the Virginia Department of Education, in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Human Services, must define “cell phone-free education” and publish model plans and draft guidance on implementing cell phone-free education in Virginia’s K-12 schools on its website by August 15.

As part of the policy development, the departments will be required to hold listening sessions to solicit public input on “age-appropriate cell phone-free education policies and procedures, gather feedback on best practices currently underway in Virginia public schools, and receive input for the draft guidance,” according to the governor’s executive order.

The departments plan to deliver the final guidance by September 16 of this year. The decree requires school boards to adopt the policies by January 1, 2025, or earlier. According to American Psychological Association studies, adolescents who spend more than three hours per day on social media are twice as likely to have poor mental health. Youngkin’s order mentions this finding.

The decree also cites studies indicating that youngsters spend approximately 4.8 hours per day on social media, and that pupils who use their phones in class learn less and have lower grades.
“Therefore, creating a cell phone-free education environment in public schools is not only a prudent measure but an essential one to promote a healthier and more focused educational environment where every child is free to learn,” according to the Youngkin mandate.

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