It has come to this in the quest for safe schools: Cloth backpacks, for decades a fixture in the lives of most high school students, will be banned from the hallways of Montgomery County’s Wissahickon High School near Philadelphia starting this fall, reports the city’s Inquirer. If students walking between classes want to use a backpack, it must be made of clear plastic or mesh so its contents can be seen at a glance. Cloth backpacks can be carried into the school in the morning but must be stored in lockers.
Wissahickon is the most recent district to mandate see-through backpacks, joining several other area suburban districts and private schools as they look to avert tragedies like the 1999 gun killings at Columbine and last December’s gunshot suicide by a student inside Montgomery County’s Springfield Township High School. The move has unleashed a torrent of protest from some Wissahickon students, who say high schools are coming to resemble “prisons or police states,” in the words of one. Some are organizing a resistance campaign, but suburban school officials are adamant they must adopt stringent safety measures.