A school district in Michigan has banned all backpacks from school buildings, in response to growing safety concerns.
Flint Community Schools announced last week that backpacks would be banned and the ban would be in place for the rest of the school year. The new policy went into effect on Monday.
"We are doing all that we can to create a safe and secure environment for our scholars, families, teachers and staff," Superintendent Kevin Jones wrote in a letter posted on the school district's website.
Jones cited growing threatening behavior happening across the country, including weapons being brought to schools, as the reason for the backpack ban.
"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," he said.
Following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last May, where 19 students and two teachers died, schools began implementing policies requiring students to use clear backpacks. However, Flint Community Schools have gone a step further and banned clear backpacks from school buildings, with the superintendent saying that it doesn't 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," Jones said.
Students are allowed to store personal items like wallets, keys, hygiene products and phones in small purses, bring lunchboxes or place their gym clothes in clear plastic bags, all of which will be subject to searches.
If a student brings a backpack to school, parents or guardians must pick it up from the school, according to Jones.
The Flint Board of Education, the district's administration and principals approved the policy change, Jones said, adding that the district received support from the Flint Police Department.
"We have thought long and hard about this decision, knowing that it will impact how scholars and families prepare for their days and operations in the classroom," Jones said. "However, based on the issues we continue to see across the country regarding school safety, we believe that this is the best solution for those we serve."