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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
Guidance Document Change: The 2020 General Assembly passed House Bill 817 requiring the Department of Education (VDOE), in collaboration with the Department of Health and medical professional societies, to develop and distribute health and safety best practice guidelines for the use of digital devices in public schools no later than the 2021-2022 school year. These guidelines address digital device use for different age ranges and developmental levels, the amount of time spent on digital devices in the classroom and at home, appropriate break frequency from the use of digital devices, and physical positioning as it applies to ergonomics and posture.
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4/7/21  12:15 pm
Commenter: Ann Marie Dougalss

Comment on HB 817- Device Use in Schools

Thank you for bringing all this to fruition. It is good to have something to reference at home and at school as our children are definitely being affected by the over-use and mis-sure of personal and school issued devices and most of us don't read/follow the manufacture guidelines on how to use digital devices.

Some considerations:

1. Parents, teachers and students need an in-person orientation on how to set up a work station at school and home, especially if devices are going to be sent home. We need all users to be formally trained from the beginning so as to establish good habits from the start.

2. The Law asked for peer reviewed research, but the 20-20-20 Rule which is suggested is not steeped in science. Consider the 20-20-2 rule (20 inches from eyes, no more than 20 minutes at a time; 2 hours outside). Comprehensive eye exams should be promoted to make sure children's vision is not being compromised. Dry eyes, blurry eyes and crossed-eyes are prevalent these days and fortunately preventable.

3. The Law asked to guide on the amount of time spent on digital devices, but no time amount was suggested for different age ranges and developmental levels. Please provide some time limits considering home and school cumulative totals per day. My ophthalmologist said more than 3 hours, even when taking breaks and using the equipment properly, enters the danger zone for [esp. developing] eyes.

4. If the curricular objectives can be met off screen, guide teachers to choose real life learning mediums which have less physical and psychological side effects.

5. On page 9, #1 under Movement and Activity, please consider removing “Every few hours” to "As often and as frequently as possible”… Getting up "every few hours" is not nearly enough and very dangerous. Sitting is the new smoking. Sedentary behavior is linked to a myriad of chronic health problems.

6. “Think Blink” is a catchy phrase to know and employ as we blink significantly less while on screen, which can lead to dry eyes, a condition now found in children that is very hard to mitigate and that can lead to blindness.

7. Please guide parents/caretakers, teachers, and school nurses to look out for signs of physical distress in children who are using digital devices, like rubbing their eyes, complaining of a headaches, red/bloodshot eyes, etc. Children may lack the verbal skills to accurately identify or report their physical discomforts. Simple remedies could be suggested for relief like increased outside time; cold/hot compresses for some relief; asking teacher for alternatives to screen work;  more body breaks; etc.                          Very good book recommendation: Vision for Life by Meir Schneider, Phd

8. Schools should consider an automatic “shut down” time feature on school issued devices. Homework often lasts deep into the night. Due dates and times should be aligned with sundown so as not to effect the needed sleep of our growing children and teens. The midnight assignment curfew is not conducive to sleep health.

Again, thank you for your work on this. This is so important to all our learning communities throughout our Commonwealth. With your guidance and age-appropriate application, we have the opportunity to enhance learning through ALL educational technologies from authentic primary sources and real life learning opportunities to modern day internet applications. I look forward to collaborating with you through the process of creating the best possible learning environments for Virginia Kids.

Ann Marie Douglass
Mom~ First & Foremost 
School Health Advisory Board (SHAB)
Screen Use in Schools Subcommittee Chair of SHAB
Member of Arlington Partnership for Children Youth and Families
Science Advisory Committee Member for Arlington Public Schools

CommentID: 97696