School officials across the nation are looking for ways to keep their students safe after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Some have decided to restrict the use of backpacks as a way to ward off another massacre.
Students at Niles McKinley High School in Niles, Ohio, will no longer be able to bring their backpacks into the building, according to WKBN. The school board said it banned backpacks because it wanted “to make every student feel safe” amid rising fears of gun violence.
Sophomore Matthew Price told the TV station that he supports the backpack ban at his school, which earlier this week removed a student who was allegedly heard talking about school shootings.
Never miss a local story.
“It’s just crazy, all this stuff happening,” he told WKBN. “I don’t even want to think about it. It’s sickening, really.”
Instead, students at the school are just allowed to have lunch boxes and “small purses.” They will also be given more time between classes to go grab books from their lockers, officials told Fox8.
Niles City Schools Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen said it’s not known how long the ban will stay in place. Rhonda Campbell, whose child attends the school, said she’s fine with the decision.
“I agree 100 percent,” she told Fox8. “We need to do whatever we can to keep our children safe. They are scared and we are too.”
Other schools across the U.S. have taken similar steps.
Backpacks were banned at middle and high schools in Manatee County, Florida, following around a dozen threats, according to WFLA. Scott L. Hopes, a member of the county’s school board, said his colleagues take the threats seriously.
That’s why they decided to ban backpacks.
“If you’re going to bring a weapon to school,” he told WFLA, “you wouldn’t hang it around your neck, you’d probably put it in a backpack.”
Some questioned whether the ban will actually stop a determined shooter.
“There’s lots of ways to hide a weapon on you,” Vickie Lischka, whose nephew attends Manatee High School, told WFLA. “It’s not a deterrent because if they really wanted to get a weapon in, they’d hollow out the books.”
At Marion High School in Illinois, backpacks are still allowed — but they have to be see-through and left in a locker, according to WPSD. That’s forced some students to carry their class materials in a rather unusual manner.
“Kids are bringing laundry baskets and stuff,” student Sheldon Ratchford told the outlet.
And in West Virginia, students at Winfield High School can no longer bring cellphones inside. School officials made that decision after someone sent a threat on an anonymous texting app, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
No weapons were found after the FBI conducted a search. The school is now also requiring students to leave most backpacks in a locker, according to the Gazette-Mail. Clear backpacks can still be brought to class.
Cristi Kwei, a mother of two kids at Winfield High School, said she appreciates the school trying to keep its students safe.
“I know they’re just trying to do something, maybe to let parents know they are trying,” she told the Gazette-Mail. “I don’t think you can please everybody.”