The second largest school district in Texas will now require students to use clear or mesh backpacks in response to school security concerns following the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting.
Students in grades 6 through 12 in the Dallas Independent School District will not be permitted to carry opaque backpacks beginning in the upcoming school year. The district plan to spend roughly $800,000 purchasing backpacks for each of the approximately 70,000 students in the district.
The decision was reportedly made after a combination of feedback from parents and students and recommendations from a district safety task force. “We acknowledge that clear or mesh backpacks alone will not eliminate safety concerns,” district officials said in a statement. “This is merely one of several steps in the district’s comprehensive plan to better ensure student and staff safety.”
Following the murder of 19 students and two teachers by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, there is renewed interest in adequate and effective security measures for schools. Texas law enforcement and state officials have been heavily criticized for their response to the shooting. A preliminary report released Sunday by a Texas House investigative committee indicated that nearly 400 officers, including federal agents, responded to the situation and waited almost 78 minutes before neutralizing the shooter.
Texas lawmakers approved funding for mental health resources and school security improvements but have indicated that gun control legislation is essentially off the table. And some parents and family members of survivors feel there have been attempts to shift blame for the shooting and law enforcement’s disastrous response onto the school itself.
School shooting survivors have expressed doubt about implementing measures like clear backpacks. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, implemented a clear backpack policy following a gunman’s murder of 17 students. However, the measure was scrapped within a year after many students who survived the shooting indicated they felt the action was ineffective and violated their privacy rights. The school eventually swapped the backpack for metal detectors and updated security protocols.