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Aug 2, 2022

Important Updates on Cell Phone Use and Attendance for High School Students

Dear Families & Students ~

We hope you are having an enjoyable and rewarding summer. As we prepare for the school year that begins on Wednesday, August 24, we’d like to update you on our increased support for the academic, social, and emotional health of our students. Our high school students will continue to benefit from two resources we added last year: 

  • student safety coaches, who are professionals trained in developing trusting relationships with students, and 
  • an increase in social and emotional counselors in every school.  

ACPS is in discussions with a national mental health care provider that specializes in therapeutic services for families and students. This program will offer more immediate services than are now generally available in our community. We will share more details with you once they have been finalized.

Student Cell Phone Use in Classrooms

Building on the success of a policy we introduced in our middle schools in 2019, beginning with the new school year, student cell phones will no longer be permitted in our high school classrooms. Students can have and use cell phones before and after the school day, between classes, and during lunch periods. 

Research has found that the use of cell phones during instructional time leads to negative academic performance, including reduced concentration and reading comprehension. Studies show that when students are not using cell phones in class, they retain more information and have higher levels of information recall. There is also less risk of bullying, student anxiety, privacy violations, and classroom disruption. 

In a survey earlier this year on these new operating procedures, we received 1,500 responses from parents, students, and teachers. Among all who responded, 70 percent said they supported restrictions on the use of cell phones during classroom instructional time.

A summary of the new operating procedures for cell phone use that takes effect on August 24 is linked here and pasted below this letter. Please note that in special circumstances, students can receive permission to use their cell phone or a school phone to complete a necessary or emergency call.


At its height, COVID resulted in reduced enforcement by schools across Virginia of the state’s attendance requirements. This is no longer necessary. 

There is a direct link between students being in class to the quality of their academic performance and to their ability to fulfill their highest potential. The high school experience is much more effective and engaging when students are able to develop strong relationships in school with their teachers, administrators, and with one another. 

In addition to students performing better when they come to school, School Board policy requires that students must maintain seat time in order to receive credit for the class. Students who miss ten single class periods during the school year (excused or unexcused) risk not receiving the course’s high school credit towards graduation. In order to recover this time and earn the credit, they will be required to attend an after-school or Saturday school program in place of excused absences.  We anticipate that these programs will be available on Tuesday and Thursdays from 4:00-5:30 and Saturdays from 9:00-12:00, as needed.

Student attendance will be a priority for us this year, so we will be reaching out to talk with families, both by phone and in person, when students are absent from school. We are eager to work with you in making the high school learning experience a valuable pathway to lifelong success for every student, including ensuring that all students graduate on time from our school.

Please take a few minutes to review the attendance operating procedures linked here and pasted below this letter, and do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions.   

We're looking forward to seeing you soon and are committed to providing your child with the best possible education experience.


Jennifer Sublette, Principal