School Safety is one of, if not the greatest concerns across the country for school administration, teachers, parents and students and others alike. Everyone is trying to come up with ideas that can help schools become safer and have a learning environment where students once again, feel safe.
Portsmouth City Schools are trying to do that for its students for the school year 2018-2019. As a safety precaution for students attending Portsmouth City Schools, Superintendent Scott Dutey has made the public aware students will be carrying only clear backpacks,in the upcoming school year.
The Portsmouth Board of Education will vote in its July meeting to implement the new rule. Dutey said he does not foresee any problems at the meeting about the rule. The safety committee, along with administration and the board are all on board with this decision to help keep Portsmouth students safe.
One of the concerns that parents and students have had at other schools across the country, who have switched to clear backpacks, is that of female students and their right to privacy, when it comes to feminine products and such. Dutey said that the girls will probably still be able to have a small pouch or purse for those things, but he didn’t want to say that for sure, until the July meeting has taken place.
Another concern is that of the weight of school books and such, that the clear backpacks can handle throughout the school year. Dutey said he thought the safety committee had tested or reviewed those concerns.
One of the final concerns, and maybe the most important concern parents who have children that attend a school requiring clear backpacks, is that of the cost for those families who would be unable to purchase these backpacks, especially if they have more than one or two students attending these schools. Mr. Dutey said he and the District Safety Team had already contacted some of the local churches in the spring about this being a possibility for the upcoming school year. Plus, they had sent home notices to the parents at the end of last school year, that the clear backpacks were to be a change for the fall.
When asked about things that happen during the school year, as the backpacks take on the added wear and tear many of the children will put on them, Dutey said the district will continue to try to provide help in any way they can, to those who need them and are still unable to purchase new ones. “It is our plan to have the clear backpacks in stock as they become needed.”
Dutey continued, “I think any steps that are made under the guise of student safety, is a good thing. That’s always our paramount thing, things we can do from a proactive stance that will help. Now, we won’t know until we implement this, but we certainly feel comfortable with the knowledge of what we are purposing and what we’re striving to do, will lead to student safety. I can’t say it’s a great step or not, but it is definitely a decision made with the thought that it can and will lead to safer schools.”
As for re-accessing this after this year, Dutey said they re-access and look at everything they do throughout the school year.
Another issue with the Portsmouth City School District, was the possibility of students wearing school uniforms. Dutey commented that for the upcoming school year, “We were looking at multiple things to implement in the district and the dress code was one of those. We decided to hold off on that, and to continue talking, looking and evaluating throughout the course of this upcoming school year and it’s something that we will look at again as a possibility for the next school year. The uniforms, that’s a big one, but again, if that came to fruition, it would be for the same reasons as the backpacks. To make the schools safer and that whole environment, is what we’re most concerned with.”
Dutey said that he just wanted to stress that the District Safety Team looked at the backpacks throughout the course of the year and this was their recommendations with involvement in each building and they are bringing it to the board and are ready to act on it.
As far as whether any other school district in Ohio is implementing clear backpacks, Portsmouth City may just be on the forefront, by being the first in Ohio. In neighboring Lawrence County, Symmes Valley has implemented no backpacks for the upcoming school year and Mr. Dutey said he was sure they have their reasons for what they are doing, and student safety is paramount.
As parents and families begin to look for their choice of clear backpacks, there are different choices available. There are ones with different colors around them, there is the whimsical Minion one as a possibility for the little ones, or simply the clear with black around them. The prices may vary from Amazon to Walmart, to EBay and beyond. And then, it is not to be forgotten that a school supply giveaway is set for Aug. 18th at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Portsmouth. They are said to have at least 500 clear backpacks to give away that day. There may be more giveaways as it gets closer to the time of school starting.
Portsmouth City Schools are just beginning a process to make safety, one of its greatest concerns, as Dutey mentioned, there are other things that will be looked into in the upcoming school year, as are probably most schools across the nation, looking for answers. The first choices may not work, they may have to try something else, but at least, everyone is trying to do something.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928