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Hanover School Board votes overwhelmingly to ban phones in county schools

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Posted at 8:32 PM, Jul 09, 2024

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- The Hanover County School Board voted 6-1 to ban cell phones in its schools, following a Tuesday afternoon board meeting.

The vote comes hours after Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order to create a "cell-phone free education" in schools across the state.

The approved cell-phone policy in Hanover School is as follows:

  • All mobile devices/earbuds must be powered off and out of sight during classroom instruction on the instructional day. This begins when a student enters the building and does not end until the dismissal bell rings.
  • Students must store their mobile devices/headphones (including earbuds) in their backpacks during classroom instruction on the instructional day.
  • If a student does not have a backpack or locking device to store their mobile device/headphones (including earbuds), then a backpack will be provided.
  • If a student is not meeting expectations, the teacher will notify the administration using the Google form and say to the student, “I want to make sure that you are aware that you are not meeting the expectations for mobile device use.” Failure to attend and comply with assigned discipline will result in further disciplinary action. Discipline will carry to next school year unless student is changing schools. If so, new principal will make decision.

Some Hanover residents praised the move.
"The use of cell phones needs to be nipped in the bud," said resident Kristin Holte.

But others, like 6th grader Isiah Dabney, have concerns.

"You seem to care more about policing cell phones and throwing kids out of the classroom when they use phones, than you do about actually putting things into place that would help end bullying," Dabney said, saying the board "lacked action" when it came to addressing racial bullying in schools.

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Isiah Dabney

According to a CBS 6 report last month, there was discussion for the board to consider the challenges that could come with the move, especially for students who may need devices for certain accommodations.

The policy adopted Tuesday night did not include any language about exceptions.

"I'm in favor of limiting cell phone use during instructional time," said Kristin Stevens. "Looking at cell phone use, I'm wondering if you know the numbers who rely on their phones for medical purposes and will need to access them? How about the student for whom walking through loud and crowded spaces is both anxiety-inducing and sensory overload, but doing so with headphones on helps regulate that response."

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Kristin Stevens

Board Chair Robert May cited Governor Youngkin's newly passed Executive Order before Tuesday night's vote.

"We believe that our policy is in line with what the Governor is going to put out, however, our plan is that if the Governor puts out guidance from VDOE, we would then revise it as we needed to throughout the year," May said.

You can view the full cell phone policy,here.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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