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Los Angeles school board votes to ban cellphone use during school hours

The new policy has an exception for students who rely on phone translation apps to help communicate.
Students using cellphones inside of a classroom.
Posted at 2:10 PM, Jun 18, 2024

The nation's second-largest school district voted on Tuesday to ban students from carrying cellphones throughout the school day.

Citing safety and security concerns along with disruptions to learning, the Los Angeles United School District approved the measure that would ban phones starting in January 2025. The district said that many schools, especially middle and high schools, will allow students to store their cellphones in lockers during instructional hours.

The decision came after California lawmakers voted in 2019 on a bill that encourages school districts to adopt policies limiting the use of smartphones in school.

Board members and speakers did express concern that the policy would cause some issues that would need to be addressed. There were concerns raised that cellphones are used among students to discuss schedule changes for school clubs. There were also concerns about how students can reach parents during emergencies and lockdowns.

The board, however, added an amendment that makes an exception for students who rely on phone translation apps to help communicate.

Some board members noted Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's op-ed in The New York Times that expressed significant concerns over the use of social media by children.

While numerous districts across the U.S. have developed cellphone limits, a handful of states are considering school device bans.

In Ohio, the state's House passed House Bill 250, which added a provision to require each public school district to create a cellphone policy, emphasizing that phone use should be as limited as possible during the school day. That bill still needs to be considered by the state's Senate. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is considering pushing a cellphone ban.

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