Preschoolers among students required to carry clear backpacks in Texas school district
iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Beginning next year, students from pre-K to 12th grade who attend schools in a Dallas-area district will be required to carry only transparent backpacks to class.
The announcement was made in a three-page safety and security letter dated March 26, from the Ennis Independent School District in Texas, addressed to parents and guardians. The letter was made public on the district’s website.
The change comes weeks after a gunman killed 17 people and injured others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day.
The letter which is signed by Ennis ISD Superintendent John E. Chapman, states that districts across the state are receiving threats made to their schools and that while it may pose an inconvenience to students and staff, the district would be heightening security — beginning with random searches involving junior high and high school students and later, enforcing the district-wide clear backpack rule.
“Starting now,” the letter reads, “we will randomly pick EJHS and EHS students to search through their backpacks. Please know that we are doing this in the best interest of all students. If your child gets chosen, please have them comply with the administration and officers.”
Following the shooting, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are now required to use only clear backpacks at school after a letter was sent home to parents by Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, Robert Runcie. “Each student will be given a clear backpack at no cost,” Runcie wrote in the letter.
Chapman recommends Ennis ISD parents purchase backpacks made of PVC, or Polyvinyl chloride–a synthetic material that is stronger than “normal plastic,” he wrote. Clear, non-vinyl backpacks will be provided at no cost to students by the non-profit organization Give a Kid a Chance, Chapman added.
In the next academic year the junior high and high school students within the Ennis ISD will also be required to wear their school ID round their neck, daily. Security gates will be installed and Ennis ISD said they will be hiring additional officers, installing more security cameras and scheduling more visits from their “canine units.”
Ennis ISD denied ABC News’ request for an interview. A representative at the district confirmed that the clear backpack requirement will be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.
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