A school district in Michigan has banned all backpacks from school buildings for the rest of the school year, citing growing safety concerns amid a nationwide surge of weapons and violence in schools.
Flint Community Schools announced last week that the new policy went into effect on Monday, May 3, affecting about 3,500 students in grades K-12. The district said it was doing all that it could to create a safe and secure environment for its scholars, families, teachers and staff.
“Across the country, we have seen an increase in threatening behavior and contraband, including weapons, being brought into schools at all levels,” Superintendent Kevin Jones wrote in a letter posted on the district’s website. “Backpacks make it easier for students to hide weapons, which can be disassembled and harder to identify or hidden in pockets, inside books or under other items.”Embed from Getty Images
The backpack ban comes after a series of deadly school shootings in the past year, including one at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last May, where 19 students and two teachers died. Some schools have responded by requiring students to use clear backpacks, but Jones said that did not resolve the issue.
“By banning backpacks altogether and adding an increased security presence across the district, we can better control what is being brought into our buildings,” he said.Embed from Getty Images
Students are allowed to bring small purses with personal items, lunchboxes or clear plastic bags with clothes, which are subject to searches. If a student brings a backpack to school, parents or guardians must pick it up from the school.Embed from Getty Images
The district received support from the Flint Board of Education, the district’s administration and principals, and the Flint Police Department. Jones said the policy change was approved after thinking long and hard about its impact on the school community.
“We apologize for any inconvenience that this policy will have on our scholars and families, but when it comes to the safety of our school community, we will not take any chances,” he said.