New AHPS Cell Phone Policy

New AHPS Cell Phone Policy
Posted on 06/13/2023

LOW MOOR — A new policy regarding the use of cell phones will be in effect when Alleghany Highlands Public Schools students return to classrooms in August.

The policy was unanimously approved by the school board during a Monday, June 12, 2023, meeting. 

The goal is to minimize distractions in classrooms and keep students safe. Under the policy, cell phones will not be permitted to be used during instruction in the classroom; however, students will be permitted to have their phones with them during school.

The policy change comes after several months of discussions by school board members and AHPS staff. During its evaluation, the school board conducted a survey of parents and AHPS staff. The parental survey was initiated on Jan. 23. A majority of parents who responded to the survey said they support cell phone restrictions as long as students are permitted to have them at school.

The school board utilized several other resources in its decision-making process, and it reviewed similar policies that have been adopted by other school divisions.

“The discussion to create this policy originated through conversations between teachers and school board members. It is a bit of a double-edged sword because we all know the benefits of cell phones in making after-school arrangements, in case of emergency, and in other instances. But we are also  aware that they can be a huge distraction not only in the classroom, but in everyday life for both students and adults,” said Jacob Wright, chair of the Alleghany Highlands School Board. 

“We felt it was necessary to poll the parents to get their opinions, and the response we got was overwhelmingly supportive of a policy like we created. We hope this new policy will bring more focus back into the classroom, while not disrupting the actual benefits of cell phone usage for students,” Wright said.  

Under the policy, which takes effect at the start of the 2023-2024 school year on August 23, students must keep cell phones out of sight during instructional periods. The phones can be kept on, but they must be set to silent mode with vibration off. The do not disturb mode is the most preferable setting mode, because it will enable students to quickly call 9-1-1 if an emergency situation occurs.

High school and middle school students will be allowed to use their phones on buses, before and after school, between class periods, and during lunch. Elementary students will be allowed to use their phones on buses as well as before and after school.

Headphones, earbuds, Airpods, Bluetooth headphones, and other accessories that are used to connect to cell phones cannot be used during instructional time. At the teacher’s discretion, these accessories can be connected to school-issued Chromebooks for instructional purposes.   

Across Virginia, more school divisions are evaluating policies surrounding cell phone usage in school. Nationwide, policies related to cell phone usage during school hours has steadily gone up over the last five years, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. In 2015, just more than 65 percent of schools prohibited non-academic use of cell phones during school. In 2020, that number jumped to more than 76 percent. 

“We understand and appreciate that cell phones can be valuable tools. Unfortunately, they can also compromise student attention in the learning environment.  We appreciate the care and deliberation of the school board as they developed this local policy, and we look forward to the cooperation of our community as we implement it in August,” shared Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson, leaders of AHPS.

Aspects of the policy also apply to employees. AHPS faculty and staff are expected to abide by the school division’s acceptable use policy regarding the use of technology. 

“Students’ families may notice that the school division’s staff will take additional steps in the coming year to help support family and student preferences regarding the sharing of photographs in particular. As always, the school division encourages families to carefully review the division’s media release forms,” Halterman and Snead-Johnson said.

The forms are available at Questions about the forms should be addressed to the school the student attends.

In addition, effective July 1, AHPS employees and students will not be allowed to download or use apps associated with TikTok and WeChat on school board-issued devices. The ban, which is mandated by state law, also bans AHPS employees from using school board-owned devices to access websites developed by two Chinese companies, TikTok’s maker ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, the operator of WeChat.

During its most recent session, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation putting those restrictions into state law. The restrictions are being put in place to limit potential access to confidential data.

The Alleghany County Public Schools Division was created through the July 1, 2022, merger of Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center. The school division serves approximately 2,700 students. It is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington.

School division news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools, and the AHPS website at













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