Clear or mesh backpacks required for middle and high school students in Dallas

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Dallas middle and high school students must use clear or mesh backpacks when classes begin next month, district officials announced Monday.

The change — which follows the deadly Uvalde school shooting — comes as districts work to improve campus safety nationwide.

“We recognize that transparent or mesh backpacks alone will not eliminate security concerns,” according to a new district webpage. “This is just one of many steps in the district’s overall plan to better keep students and staff safe.”

The administration has purchased transparent backpacks for all high school students and plans to distribute them before the start of the school year. The cost of this plan was not immediately available.

The new backpack policy differs from a proposal that was prematurely uploaded to the district’s website earlier this summer. This preliminary version would have required only fully transparent backpacks for all students, including primary school students.

Dallas Considers Clear Backpack Mandate for School Safety

In their bag, secondary school students can carry a small, non-transparent pouch to hold items such as money, phones, and hygiene products.

Backpacks that do not meet DISD criteria will be held in a campus office until the student’s parent or guardian can retrieve them.

District officials wrote in an FAQ that the decision was based on community feedback, as well as recommendations from the Safety Task Force and DISD’s internal task force. This was in preparation before the shooting at Robb Elementary where 19 children and two teachers were killed.

“The decision has been made to purchase transparent backpacks for every secondary school student and to require backpacks with visible contents to continue to reduce risks that could put students and staff at risk,” officials wrote.

After previous school shootings, officials elsewhere also turned to clear backpacks, though some school security experts questioned the strategy’s effectiveness.

Kennedale ISD, about 10 miles outside of Fort Worth, recently announced that it is also requiring all students in grades six through 12 to use see-through backpacks this school year. Greenville ISD will also require clear bags.

In a message to families, GISD officials wrote that “common sense measurement is becoming more and more common in school and public events”.

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in the Houston area has required clear bags for older students since 2018.

The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation about pressing education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, The Murrell Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Todd A. Williams Family Foundation, and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.

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