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Va. Senate Committee of educators to review Gov. Youngkin’s “no cell phones in class” plan

Yesterday, Governor Youngkin issued an executive order requiring the issuance of guidance for school divisions to adopt policies that establish “cell-phone free education” in our public schools. Today, State Sen. Scott Surovell, Senate Majority leader, asked three Senate Democratic education policy leaders to develop legislation addressing mobile phone use in Virginia’s public schools. The members of this workgroup are:

• Senator Ghazala Hashmi,  Chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Health, and a former university and community college professor;

• Senator Stella Pekarsky, a former teacher and school board member and Chair of the largest school system in the Commonwealth - the Fairfax County Public Schools; and

• Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg, a full-time teacher in the Henrico County Public Schools.

We look forward to working with the Governor and his administration to craft consensus bipartisan mobile phone legislation.

Surovell said: “I am confident that this workgroup—made up of senators who have dedicated their careers to education and improving the lives of Virginia’s students—will work to come up with a long-term policy on mobile phone use to help ensure that students remain focused on learning while in school and also preserve access to lines of communication with parents in the case of emergencies or other situations. We look forward to working with the Governor and House of Delegates to develop a consensus policy on guidance to our local school boards for mobile phone policy.”

“As a former educator myself, I fully understand how devices such as cell phones can be immensely distracting, even at the collegiate level. While technology can be an asset, it also interferes with focus,  engagement, and active learning. As members of the General Assembly, we are committed to developing effective solutions that address this pervasive issue, ensuring our students achieve and succeed,” said Senator Hashmi.

“As a public school teacher, I see firsthand how cell phones disrupt the classroom and hinder learning. Our priority should be fostering an environment conducive to academic achievement and student growth, and I look forward to collaborating with the workgroup to develop a comprehensive legislative solution,” said Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg.

Senator Stella Pekarsky. said,  “As a former teacher, I know firsthand how cell phones can be a major distraction in the classroom. However, as a parent, I understand the need for children to have their phones for emergencies or when they provide accommodations for different learning needs. As the former School Board chair of the largest school division in the Commonwealth, I understand it is imperative that we strike the right balance through legislative action to enhance learning outcomes for all students. This is an issue I have been working on the last few months and am committed to tackling head-on to ensure our children’s success.”

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