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Ohio releases model student cellphone policy for schools

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(The Center Square) – Ohio’s model cellphone policy for school districts throughout the state keeps phones out of students’ hands completely for the entire school day.

The state’s policy comes after Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 250 into law. It requires school districts to develop a cellphone policy and goes into effect in July. The bill unanimously passed both the House and Senate.

“By removing the distraction of cellphones from classrooms, our schoolchildren will be free to flourish and will see improved academic engagement and social interaction,” DeWine said. “Schools that implement this model policy will quickly see positive results by giving children a break from the nonstop notifications that have proven to be harmful to student performance and mental health.”

The new law, however, did not ban cellphones in schools during the school day, a move DeWine had pushed for in his State of the State address earlier this year.

The model policy, though, is a ban on cellphone use.

It prohibits students from using cellphones or similar electronic communication devices on school property during school hours. It also requires students keep cellphones in a secure place like a locker, closed backpack or storage device provided by the district – at all times when cellphone use is prohibited.

Students could use cellphones for a documented purpose, such as an individualized education program or monitoring a health issue.

“The need for action when it comes to cellphone restrictions during the school day was made clear after months of meetings with Ohio district and school leaders,” said Stephen Dackin, director of the Department of Education and Workforce. “We listened to their experiences and feedback and used these insights to inform the model policy and additional resources that we are proud to make available. I encourage school leaders to use these tools to engage their communities and adopt policies that enhance students’ ability to have a rich and rewarding learning experience while at school.”

After DeWine signed the new law, many districts – including urban and rural systems – around the state moved forward to ban cellphone use before the model policy was developed.

The Ohio School Board Association called the new law helpful for school boards as they deal with cellphone issues with students. The association is also working to develop new guidelines based on the new law.

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