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South Bend schools to require clear backpacks for all students, all grade levels

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana school district will distribute and require clear backpacks for all students at all grade levels for the upcoming school year to enhance security and safety.

The South Bend Community School Corp. announced at Monday evening’s board meeting that starting in the 2023-24 school year, it will allow only clear backpacks on all campuses.

“We join many other districts across the country in introducing this simple measure that allows for safer buildings and work environments,” Eric Crittendon, the district’s security and emergency preparedness director, said in a statement. “Transparent bags will not solve every school’s safety issues, but it certainly serves as a deterrent for harmful and prohibited items.”

The district will provide one clear backpack free of charge for each student, it said.

Students will be allowed to carry within their backpacks a non-clear pouch no larger than 5.5 by 8.5 inches (13.97 by 21.59 centimeter) to hold personal items.

In neighboring Michigan, the Grand Rapids Public Schools announced last week it would become the second Michigan school district to ban backpacks on school premises after a third-grade student was found with a loaded gun, the third time this year in the district a handgun was found in a backpack. Flint Community Schools banned backpacks beginning May 1.