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School Board Considering Possible Student Cell Phone Policy

Low Moor, VA (Jan. 23, 2023) - Alleghany Highlands Public Schools is discussing the possibility of developing a policy concerning student cell phone use.

The school board has requested that parents and AHPS staff be surveyed to see if cell phone use in schools is having a negative impact on the educational environment in classrooms.

The school board began weighing this matter through discussion in December. As part of its consideration, the board said it wanted feedback from the AHPS staff and parents. Links to an online survey were submitted to staff and parents last week. Participation in the surveys is optional.

Discussions about a cell phone policy are in the preliminary stages. A final decision rests with the school board.

“As a board, we hear both the pros and cons associated with the usage of cell phones. We are interested in hearing more about how our community feels about cell phone usage in our schools and classrooms,” said School Board Chair Jacob Wright.

Similar policy considerations are happening across the country. The AHPS staff has researched other school divisions in Virginia that have developed or revisited their cell phone policies, including Rockingham County. That information has been shared with the school board, along with a recent report from the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC). The MERC report includes examples of district-level cell phone policies, legal issues connected to student cell phone use, and evidence both for and against policies that restrict student cell phone use.

The report, “Cell Phones and Schools: A MERC Research Brief,” may be downloaded free of charge from both Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Department of Education websites.

Parents and AHPS staff received links to the online survey through an email from the central office. The survey link for parents is https://forms.gle/9X9CrJrhTJy4PsKw9.

“We encourage interested parents and staff members to complete the survey sent to them. Our team designed the survey to collect meaningful data quickly, so completing the survey will only take a few minutes,” said AHPS leaders Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson.

The school division expects it will begin analyzing data from the survey in the first days of February, making a prompt response from parents important. The data collected from the survey will provide important advisory information to the school board. The school board has not set a timetable for rendering its decision.

Parents with questions should contact the principal of the school their student attends.

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