Students split on proposed clear backpack policy for 2023-24 school year

 A school safety town hall meeting will be held on June 12 to get community feedback on proposed clear backpacks, a “unified dress code” and metal detectors. The event, held at Plantation High School at 6 p.m., follows a mixed reaction to the district’s announcement that next school year all students will have to use clear backpacks. This change came soon after a threat that leaked around social media on May 4 around 5 p.m., which caused people to panic and not come to school the next day. 

While there’s been significant pushback from parents and students, some support the increased safety.      

“I honestly think it’s a good idea; I know a lot of people may disagree with me but if you think about it, it will keep us all safe and nobody will try to bring weapons to school since the bags are clear,” junior Ari Itzchaki said.

Those who oppose the idea have voiced privacy concerns. 

“I don’t want people to look at my bag,” Georgio Kazoglou said. “I want to have my bag only visible to me, plus my backpack is messy and people are going to look at it.” 

Although everybody’s backpack has to be clear, an exception was made that you can have a small pouch for personal hygiene items.

“I am a girl, so I have my personal hygiene items in my bag, but since they’re clear people are going to see me them and  I don’t feel comfortable and I have a lot of friends that agree with that and I bet a lot of other girls agree too,” sophomore Lenai Juarez said. “I hope they don’t enforce this rule next year.” 

Other students see the proposed policy as an overreaction.

“That’s not going to fix anything, and they are punishing everyone in Broward just because some kid posted a threat that wasn’t even real,” sophomore Matthew Jordan said.

Students considered the enforcement of the policy if implemented.

“I think some people will obey and some people will not obey because who wants to wear a clear backpack; they’re ugly and when it gets messy people are going to see it, but at the same time people are going to obey because it keeps everyone safe since you can’t hide a gun in your backpack anymore,”  Jordan said.

Broward County Schools posted on their website about the rule: “The purpose of this requirement is to add an additional layer of safety across our District and provide added safeguards for our students, staff, and faculty.” Not all students see the measure as the district intends. 

“I think people are not going to like it, but I think it’s for the best because it will keep everyone safe because this year there was a lot of school threats targeted at Broward, but as soon as the last one was leaked, [the district]  had enough and decided to tweet out the clear backpack rule,” sophomore Cristopher Sanchez said.

Although every student may have to wear clear backpacks, there will be some exceptions. Instrument carrying bags that are provided from the school, and other sport bags will be allowed on campus.

“I don’t think all the students are going to obey the rule because people don’t like the backpacks because it doesn’t look cool or it’s not their style, so people are going to fight back and bring regular backpacks,” Sanchez said. “Yesterday I heard students talking about how they’re going to bring their school supplies in instrument cases.”

Opponents also say that clear backpacks won’t keep students any safer.

“I think it won’t solve anything because you can’t carry a long rifle in a backpack anyways; it will only create a false sense of security,” sophomore Enzo Lolo said. “I think people are going to protest against this, and they might just get rid of it if enough people protest against this.”  

“I think the students will only obey the rule if the school is strict about it, but if everyone comes to school in normal backpacks, they can’t punish everyone,” Lolo said.

Students expressed concern about the effect of one student’s actions. 

“I think it’s scary to think that people take time out of their day to write these horrible threats and send them anonymously; people think it’s a joke, but it’s really not, and now because of this anonymous threat, we have to wear clear backs next year,” junior Daniella Jaume said.

 In addition to holding the town hall meeting, the School Board rescheduled its vote on the policy until the July 25 meeting. 

“It’s a good thing that they’re having a meeting soon cause if they actually discuss this and actually put interest into this they can stop it, and people can stop being so stupid,” freshman Sebastian Lima said. “I hope they address the type of backpacks you can wear so nobody tries anything funny next year.”

Broward County also stated that mesh or colored backpacks will not be permitted, even if they are transparent, with the exception for small pouches for personal hygiene items.

“It’s stupid that they can’t be colored because they will still be transparent; in my opinion I think they’re taking it too far, but I don’t make the rules I guess,” senior Miguel Juarez said.