State-Wide Ruling School Cell Phone Bans Supersede District Regulations

Teachers are coming up with innovative ways to restrict their students’ use of cell phones in class. While some students must keep their phones in lockers, others keep them in pouches they can only access at the end of the school day. The honor system is another option, of course.

While educators have long struggled to capture children’ attention, some legislators are beginning to recognize the issue. Recently, regulations regulating or outlawing cell phone use in schools were passed in three states. In 2023, Florida was the pioneer in this regard.

Not all limitations are the same: while some schools forbid phone use inside of school facilities, others permit students to use them during lunch and in between classes.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of the 2021–2022 academic year, more than 75% of K–12 public schools forbade cell phone use in the classroom.

The use of phones in class was outlawed by Florida last year, making it the first state to do so. At least eight states’ worth of legislators have contemplated enacting laws to accomplish the same as of 2024.

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A bill requiring school districts to restrict cell phone use during class time was signed into law earlier this year by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. In May, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill that mandates all school districts create a formal policy prohibiting the use of cell phones in the classroom.

Legislation of this kind has been introduced in Vermont, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Washington, and Kansas.

Students are distracted by their cell phones during the school day

Kris Hagel is the Peninsula School District’s Chief Information Officer in the state of Washington. The district has 17 schools and approximately 8,700 pupils are enrolled there. Hagel stated that parents, principals, instructors, and even other students were complaining to the school system about their distracted children.

“Every classroom we went in the kids weren’t paying attention to the teachers. They were on their phones, they were distracted. Even if they weren’t on their phones, they’re getting notifications.” Hagel stated.

Since the district banned cell phones from classes last academic year, Hagel claims there has been a discernible shift in the level of student involvement.


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