Opinion by Jadie Burhenne

Jadie Burhenne

Backpack Use in School 

Beginning this year, Treynor Community Schools has implemented a rule prohibiting the use of backpacks during the school day. We are allowed to bring bags to school as long as they are stored in our lockers. Initially the staff informed us that this was simply a statewide rule that had to due with the fire marshall. Bags sitting in the isles of classrooms was seen as a tripping hazard that could hinder the process of quickly evacuating the school in case of an emergency. The school also justifies this change because of the school shootings in America. Gun violence in schools has increased over the past couple of years. It’s a matter of student safety and prevention of a crisis. Furthermore, the use of vapes have been an issues among high school students. Not allowing bags into the bathrooms and around the school limits the places that vapes can be stored. 

All of these explanations have good reasons that are focused around the safety of students in our school. However, some controversial opinions have been formed by the student body. Firstly, the only way to prevent the use of vapes entirely is to search everyone as they come into school. Vapes come in many shapes and sizes, and can be hidden anywhere. If someone truly wants to vape at school they last place that they would store it is in their bag. In the past, bags have been search through if there is suspicion of someone vaping, so it wouldn’t be the most intelligent place to hide a vape anyway. 

Secondly, books in the isles are just as much a tripping hazard as bags are. When papers, folders, books, pencil bags, and various other school supplies are scattered throughout the classroom it makes it difficult to walk up and down the rows. It also makes students very unorganized not to have everything they need with them during the school day. Additionally, it’s disrupting when someone interrupts class to ask to go to their locker. We have essentially taken everything out of our backpacks, scattered it around the room, and considered it to be safer in case there were to be a fire. 

Last, but not least, if someone were mentally unstable enough to bring a weapon to school they wouldn’t need to carry around school in their bag. It wouldn’t be challenging to bring a weapon to school since we can still bring our bags into the building. We attend a small town school with only a few hundred students, while comparatively much larger schools around us are still allowed to have their bags. Technically more students equals more opportunity for a crisis to happen whether it would be a school shooter or a much more difficult evacuation in case of an emergency. During our ALICE training, we were taught to use our bags as shields, something to throw, and a way to block out the danger. Since we are no longer allowed to carry bags, this training contradicts itself. Rather than not allowing students to carry their bags, we should view the opposing side and offer help. If someone wants to hurt people at school, they will find a way, so I believe that we should offer counseling and support to people who are having a hard time at school. Taking away backpacks will not prevent the possibility of someone harming the students at our school, but offering help to someone who is struggling can completely changes lives, regardless if they are experience homicidal feelings. 

Furthermore, people would argue that since we attend such a small school, there may not be funds to provide counseling services. If we can gather the money to purchase a four million dollar athletic complex, then we can find a way to pay for counseling. The school claims to be all about students and their safety, but they don’t offer someone who is primarily trained to help with mental health issues. While we have trained school counselors, their primary specialty isn’t in mental health but in school counseling. We need to offer an outlet to kids so that they can express their feelings in a safe place with someone who understands emotions and the human brain. 

Overall, people could say that carrying bags during the school day could potentially be dangerous, but there are many other benefits. To recap, if someone wants to vape at school, they would not need a bag to carry it because of the size of the device. School supplies scattered throughout the room is just as much of a tripping hazard, if not more, than bags sitting in they isles. Either way there is still clutter in between the rows that could potentially hinder an evacuation in case of an emergency. Lastly, if someone were mentally unstable enough to harm their classmates, they wouldn’t need a bag to do it. We should, instead, offer alternatives to heal the mind, rather than concealing the internal problem.  Finally, being able to carry our bags helps us be better organized, better prepared for class, and offers us one line of defense in the unlikely but terrifying possibility of encountering an active shooter.