Public schools in Flint, Mich., are enforcing a policy banning backpacks, including those made of clear plastic material, amid concerns over firearms, weapons and threats.
The Flint Board of Education voted 7-0 to ban backpacks for the remainder of the school year. The new policy allows small purses for personal items, clear plastic bags for gym clothes and lunchboxes “within reason.” They’ll also be subject to searches.
“Things have changed and it’s the only way to move forward,” said Flint Community Schools Superintendent Kevelin Jones. “For the most part, the majority of our families are putting in measures before something happens.”
Jones said backpacks make it easier for students to hide weapons.
This new policy comes amid the ongoing debate and discussions of how to keep kids safe while in school was reignited after a gunman shot and killed six people, including three 9-year-olds, at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, last month.
Last week, a teacher was “grazed” by a bullet when a handgun accidentally went off in a classroom at a Knoxville, Tennessee high school. Police said a 14-year-old student was charged in the incident and the gun was inside his backpack.
In January, a 6-year-old brought a handgun to his Virginia elementary school, which he reportedly brought in his backpack, before he used it to shoot his 25-year-old teacher.
“We live in a world that appears to be more dangerous for both parents, and children, and especially schools are a target,” said psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig.
That’s why Jones is being proactive with the backpack ban he says adds another layer of safety.
“We have wands, we have metal detectors in our buildings, we have heightened our personnel as it pertains to safety advocates,” he said. “We’re just trying to prevent it. So, we haven’t had a lot of backlash in our community at all about this.”
In Miami-Dade County, Florida, school officials encourage schools to enforce a no-backpack rule for the last three days of school, but that is up to the individual schools’ discretion.
In June 2022, Broward County, Florida, schools implemented a backpack ban for the last week of school due to safety concerns.