S.C. off⁠i⁠c⁠i⁠als g⁠i⁠ve ⁠t⁠⁠i⁠meframe on s⁠t⁠a⁠t⁠e’s new cellphone ban ⁠i⁠n schools

July 10, 2024

Bryce Fiedler

CALN Founding Member & CALN Board of Directors Secretary

Turned on Iphone X With Yellow Case

If you attended CALN’s training event in Columbia, have visited our website recently, or kept up with South Carolina news, you will know that S.C. public school districts will need to adopt a policy banning students from accessing cellphones and other personal electronics while at school. This rule, part of the new state budget that took effect on July 1, will be a condition for receiving state funding.  

But districts should not worry about financial repercussions anytime soon, as the State Board of Education—charged with adopting an initial policy outline—does not meet until August 13, according to the SC Daily Gazette.  

Detailed in a memo sent to districts, local school boards aren’t expected to begin approving their respective policies until September or October, the news site reports. The S.C. Department of Education says that all districts should aim to have this completed by January, so schools can begin the new year phone-free. 

As I shared with school board leaders last month, the biggest unanswered question is implementation. It is likely that the State Board’s model policy will provide additional information, including potential guidance on how districts should approach the issue. But some specifics, such as where students are meant to keep their phones during the day, may be at the discretion of individual districts to some extent.

The budget rule specifies that phone “access” must be prohibited during the school day, suggesting that keeping phones stored in students’ backpacks may not suffice, as they could still be taken out. Lockers or secure pouches—as used in a growing number of U.S. schools—might therefore be preferred choices for implementation.  

You can expect more updates in the future as new information is shared.