New legislation could allow Virginia schools to ban cellphones

Legislation was passed through the Virginia State Senate yesterday that would allow school districts to ban cell phones during school hours.

The bill still requires the approval of the House of Delegates and Governor Glenn Youngkin before going into effect.

Several school divisions around the state and 76.9% of schools nationally have prohibited cell phone use during the school day according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Pouch pilot programs have been launched in Richmond which allows students to place their phone in a locked pouch that is then unlocked at the end of the day.

The topic was discussed at a national level after Senators Tim Kaine of Virginia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced a bill to study cell phone use in the classroom in November.

The legislation would also require $25 million in funding for five years of a pilot pouch program.

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Governor Youngkin’s K-12 Digital Mapping Program Supports Best in Class Technology to Protect Virginia Schools

Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced over 1,000 schools and 85 school divisions have participated in the K-12 Digital Mapping Program, originally announced on April 25, 2022. The Department of Criminal Justice Services’ (DCJS) Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (VCSCS) is coordinating this first in the nation, top-down approach to protecting students and staff.

Virginia K–12 public schools who opt into the mapping program are required to share the digitized maps with local and state first responders to aid the response in the event of an emergency or crisis. Mass casualty events across the nation have underscored the importance of communication and collaboration with first responders prior to an incident. Accurate floor plans, high-resolution imagery, emergency response pre-planning, and true north gridded overlay in one map will enhance response time and eliminate confusion in a multi-agency response.

“Our children’s safety is the utmost priority and I’m pleased that my administration is taking key steps to enhance school safety. Virginia is the first state in the nation to execute a state initiative to standardize maps for all public schools.” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “New Jersey followed our lead by adopting this same approach and several other states are rushing to address this vital issue as well.”

“The goal is simple. We want to ensure that every public safety professional has access to the most up to date facility information in an emergency, because every second matters,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Robert Mosier.

“As a parent, former police officer and legislator, and now director of DCJS, I am honored to support our public schools in this manner” said Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services Jackson Miller. “DCJS is committed to strengthening and enhancing the collaboration between schools and first responders.”

Out of the $6.5 million dollars allocated for this unique program, $3,332,000 has been approved for schools to have their schools mapped with Collaborative Response Graphics® (CRGs®) technology. CRGs are simple visual communication and collaboration tools, usable under stress, to coordinate emergency response both outside and inside a building. CRGs enhance response time and improve command and control during an incident.

The Digital Mapping Program for Virginia K–12 Schools will fund up to $3,500 per public school. DCJS staff continues to work with local school divisions to answer questions and to facilitate the progress with the digital mapping. On August 15, 2022, DCJS staff held a webinar to discuss the digital mapping process. Here is a link to that webinar that details the mapping, application process, and reimbursement procedures: Digital Mapping Webinar

More information about the Digital Mapping Program for Virginia K–12 Schools can be found here.

 

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VA. offers funding to improve public school ventilation

emergency funding for homeless

Virginia plans to invest $500 million to improve ventilation and air quality in public schools.

Gov. Northam made the announcement at Hopewell High School with the plan securing funding to complete all HVAC projects planned.

The Commonwealth will allocate $250 million in Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for necessary ventilation upgrades.

The upgrades will help decrease airborne illnesses including COVID-19.

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