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Volusia County students head back to school Monday with new policies, including cell phone rule

VOLUSI, Fla. — It’s back to the books for Volusia County students on Monday.

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These students returning to the classroom marks the last of the Central Florida school districts’ first day of school.

But parents and students will have new policies to keep in mind for the new year.

Before students return to class, the school board asks families to review changes to the 2023-2024 code of student conduct.

Like many Central Florida school districts, Volusia Schools have updated policies based on new Florida laws.

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One of those is the use of cell phones in school.

“Once again, the addiction to cell phones, kids have to have them there,” Volusia County School Board Member Jessie Thompson said. “I think that’s part of the issue.”

This year, cell phones, tablets, earbuds, and smartwatches must be kept in a backpack or purse during instructional time.

Those items may only be used if allowed by a teacher for instructional purposes only.

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“Our teachers complain constantly they can’t get the kids’ attention,” Thompson said. “We know that our children are suffering educationally.”

To comply with the Safety in Private Spaces Act, students must use the bathrooms or locker rooms according to their biological sex at birth.

Volusia County Schools will offer a unisex bathroom option on all its campuses. This allows for only one person in a bathroom at a time.

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With all of the changes, the school board wants the code of student conduct rules to be clear from day one.

“I think the biggest thing is enforcement,” Anita Burnette, vice chair of the Volusia County School Board, said. “Making sure we follow through on the enforcement and providing an educational opportunity for the students.”

There are also changes to the dress code and vape policies.

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