Fairfax Co. Schools votes to limit cell phone usage

At a school board meeting in Fairfax County, leaders voted Thursday night on whether students should be banned from using their cell phones on school grounds. 

At around 11 p.m. the School Board voted to enact the contentious cell phone policy. 

Elementary and middle schoolers will not be able to use their cell phone from the time the first bell rings until the last bell sounds off. 

High schoolers will have to put it away in the classroom, bathrooms, and locker rooms. 

They will have more leniency and will be able to use their device in the hallway between classes and during the lunch period. 

Fairfax County School Board member tells Megan McLaughlin tells FOX 5 that the vote tonight on this cell phone mandate was expected to be pretty split. 

Some view cell phones as a distraction whereas others see them as a powerful tool to increase communication and safety. 

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"I think cell phone usage is a very important aspect of the school day for students and families," McLaughlin said. "We’ve had instances where students record fights that happen in the hallways where we didn’t have any school personnel there in the immediate vicinity and that recording helps us to identify what happened and who was involved and really make sure that justice was done in a fair and equitable way."


The Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent presented the restriction on cell phones to the school board after the middle school association raised concerns about cell phone usage and access. Sue Zoldak with Do Better FCPS believes they're focusing on the wrong thing. 

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"The reason that they site that the children are dependent on the devices and have become distracted from using tech, especially with having done online learning for two years. We find this statement somewhat ironic since one, it is their fault the students spent two years at home and two – the school itself distributes and takes pride in the fact they have distributed an FCPS from kindergarten through 12th grade," Zoldak said. 

Another concern is that this would create an enforcement issue for teachers having to discipline with warnings and consequences.