Richmond school leaders ponder cell phone policy changes for students

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 1:00 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A debate is growing over student access to technology while inside Richmond Public School classrooms.

“We know we have a problem,” Jonathan Young, a Richmond School Board member said.

RPS has a cell phone policy in place. They should be turned off and stored out of sight, but school board members say it’s not being enforced.

Young says allowing 15 and 16-year-olds ready access to cell phones is a recipe for disaster.

“One of our principals at one of our largest schools in the city of Richmond shared with me on one occasion that at least 80% of all the problems in her building originated because of cell phones,” Young said.

So what’s on the table? Right now, they’re looking at other school districts for ideas, including anything from a full ban to making sure students keep phones in a secure place during classroom instruction.

“What we’re going to evaluate per the request of my colleagues is more than cell phones. It actually relates to all kinds of digital use,” Young said.

Chromebooks and other technology are also becoming problematic. Young says they’re battling students’ access to inappropriate items online.

But this week, the school board moved forward with a working group to develop recommendations. The board will take a look at those options this spring, likely April 1, 2022.

A balance between safety, enforcement and disruption.

“We balance those needs with the fact that we’re experiencing all kinds of real problems in our buildings because specifically of cell phones,” Young said.

Any approved recommendations would go into effect next school year.

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