Roanoke County Public Schools has new cell phone policy

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:42 PM EST
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ROANOKE Co., Va. (WDBJ) - The Roanoke County School Board has adopted a cellphone guideline for students.

Elementary and middle school students must have their cell phones turned off or on airplane mode the entire day. High school students must have their cellphones turned off or on airplane mode during classes only.

Before this policy, cell phone usage was up to teachers to decide. Officials say the new standards will support students and teachers.

“What our teachers have reported, it’s becoming a real issue in class. Just in terms of daily function. You know students paying attention to the lesson not being able to be focused and it’s nobody’s fault,” said Roanoke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely. “It’s just human nature to react to what’s going on around you. And if you have those distractions, it’s really hard for students to engage and pay attention to the learning they’re supposed to be doing.”

The school board also adopted a resolution declaring a Global Day of Unplugging from sundown March 3 to sundown March 4. Global Day of Unplugging is an international effort to voluntarily restrict the usage of technology for 24 hours. This is done to bring awareness to the harmful effects of prolonged usage of smartphones and computers can have on mental and physical health.

“While technology can be a great resource when used appropriately, we recognize our students and staff need to take breaks from electronic screens,” said Brent Hudson, chairman of the Roanoke County School Board. “We are pleased to be part of Global Day of Unplugging and we encourage our students and our staff to unplug for the day and enjoy the world around us,” Hudson said.

“Many teens are spending multiple hours a day watching or using smartphone screens,” said Nicely. “Studies have shown that long-term exposure to the blue light from these devices can harm sleep patterns and can contribute to mental health concerns.”