OEA Appluads Cell Phone Law

[May 15, 2024] The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is celebrating the enactment of a new law that requires school districts to develop policies to limit cell phone use during school hours. Gov. Mike DeWine’s move to sign the bill into law on Wednesday is in line with recently adopted OEA policy. Educators serving as elected delegates at OEA’s Spring Representative Assembly, OEA’s largest governing body, voted last week to adopt a resolution in support of policies that will improve students’ learning environments by reducing their access to cell phones and other personal electronic devices during the school day. 

“Educators across the state have seen firsthand the challenges that unrestricted cell phone use in schools has created for students’ learning and wellbeing, especially when inconsistent rules have had to be enforced on a classroom-by-classroom basis,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “This law will ensure educators have clear guidance and support while allowing for local flexibility to set policies that will improve learning conditions. Our members must be included in the development of those local policies.” 

The newly adopted resolution, which reflects OEA members’ priorities and guides OEA’s advocacy work, states the following:

“The Ohio Education Association believes that the unrestricted use of cellphones and other personal electronic devices in classrooms and other academic areas detracts from the educational environment, reduces the efficacy of teaching and learning, distracts students, facilitates cyberbullying and other harms, and undermines the educational mission of schools.  

The Association also believes that limiting student access to cellphones and other personal devices in schools improves student engagement, reduces cyberbullying, enhances interpersonal communication, and supports student mental health. These benefits contribute significantly to learning outcomes and the wellbeing of students. 

The Association supports the establishment of a clear statewide policy to restrict student access to personal electronic devices during school hours. This policy must allow for local decision-making on specific details to accommodate varying needs and circumstances of different school districts. Given the crucial insights and experiences of educators, this policy must require the inclusion of educators in the development of those details. 

The Association recognizes the need for school-approved exceptions to ensure that students with medical needs or disabilities have necessary access to technology as required for their health and well-being. The Association asserts that educators should be able to facilitate the use of personal electronic devices when there is a clear instructional need.” 

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