Mesh or clear?
Students weigh-in on recently reimplemented backpack policy
by Ema Cook
Multiple gun threats at Holt High School in the last few months put the safety of students at risk, leading to the reimplementation of the backpack policy. Before COVID hit America and affected students all across Michigan, Holt High School’s backpack policy made it so students were only allowed to carry a backpack in school if it was mesh or clear. Otherwise, they had to store their items in lockers. This system had been in place for some time, so students rarely questioned the policy.
Now that schools are opened for in-person learning following the shut down, students have to wear masks and distance themselves from each other. Because of this, as they returned, students were allowed to bring their regular backpacks with them to each class to avoid gathering and possible spreading of COVID.
At the time, assistant principal Brad Case wanted students to be cautious of COVID, which he claims was one of the main reasons the backpack policy was put on pause.
“We figured if they had their backpacks, they'd be able to not be assigned a locker at first and then even though they were assigned a locker, they could still take their items to class and they wouldn't need to stop at their lockers as often. Therefore, we wouldn't have groups gathering up and that would mitigate the spread of COVID,” said Case.
Things were running smoothly with this new backpack arrangement until a couple months later. A few months after school started, Holt High School saw an increase of threats and there was an incident of a student bringing a gun to school, so there were new concerns over students’ safety.
Because of this, the administration decided to reinstate the policy on Nov. 1. “There's a lot of reasons that we suspended the policy for a while. We had some safety concerns, and we decided that it was more important for students’ safety to go back to the previous policy, where students can have either a mesh backpack that is transparent or semi transparent, and that students would need to start using their lockers. That way, fewer things can be brought into the class that teachers weren't aware of,” said Case.
Science teacher Mike Van Antwerp said the reimplementation was for reasons of safety, but voiced concern about the policy and if it will really solve the problems going on at the high school.
“I'm not sure that the clear mesh backpacks solve the problem of kids hiding stuff in their backpacks. So that's my only issue with it,” Van Antwerp said.
Now that the backpack policy has been reimplemented, students have had mixed reviews. For junior Sophia Miller, the backpack policy hasn't been much of an issue since she was able to get a backpack pass for traveling to and from the North Campus and the Main Campus. She said that her experience with the backpack policy hasn’t been negative and ultimately thinks it's good, but having mesh/clear backpacks isn’t ideal.
“It’s a good policy because of everything that's going on in the way for the school to keep things in check. But you can't really find clear or mesh backpacks that are that big and, like, knowing how much stuff I lug around in my normal size backpack, a mesh or clear backpack might be a little small,” said Miller.
Senior Jackson Cosme-Brooks agrees with Miller that the backpacks aren’t ideal, but the school is just trying to figure out how to best deal with students’ safety.
“Well, all the mesh and clear backpacks are the worst. They're very bad, but I think it's the best way they could let us still carry backpacks around the school,” said Cosme-Brooks.
Senior Paige Aldrich had some reservations about buying a new backpack, despite already owning one.
“It was kind of excessive, like thinking about it at first, just because I'd already had a backpack. So, just trying to find a new one since I hadn’t had one before was kind of weird,” said Aldrich.
Cosme-Brooks also had similar problems to Aldrich. Since the backpack policy was implemented quickly due to issues concerning safety, he had trouble finding a mesh/clear backpack on short notice.
“Yeah, in the first couple days, because they implemented it over a weekend and were like, oh, come back on Monday with a clear backpack, and I couldn't do that,” said Cosme-Brooks.
Cosme-Brooks also took into account the safety issues going on at Holt, and agreed that it is a necessary precaution for now.
“In light of recent events, I would not change the policy. But I think after things clear up, I think it could be,” said Cosme-Brooks.
Miller also thinks the policy could be changed after concerns regarding student safety have been dealt with as this would be more efficient for her and other students.
Said Miller, “I think we should be able to use our backpacks. But that's because for me it makes my life a heck of a lot easier because I can carry everything for my day on my back and not have to worry about being late to class by going to a locker that's on the opposite side of the building.”