An NJ school district will require K-12 students to use clear, plastic backpacks beginning this upcoming school year. South River Superintendent of Schools Sylvia Zircher sent a letter home to district families dated July 27 which detailed that clear, plastic backpacks would be mandatory for all students.

The Middlesex County school district will provide the clear backpacks to kids free of charge, though students are allowed to purchase their own clear backpacks if preferred. It’s a measure to help boost safety in the area schools and keep kids from bringing prohibited items into the buildings.

Previously, South River High School adopted the use of clear backpacks, starting during the 2019-2020 school year.

“This is something that many districts have adopted over the last several years,” Zircher said. “The use of clear backpacks is just an extra measure in keeping prohibited items from entering our schools.”

Small handbags will still be allowed for students to carry personal items, but they must be the size of half a sheet of paper or less. Lunch boxes will still be allowed, though the letter states they should be left in bins until lunchtime and returned at the end of lunch.

The clear backpacks have become more popular across the country in the wake of school shootings. But some critics say that the mandate is only for optics and does not actually keep kids safer.

A similar, district-wide measure was adopted in Lakewood in 2018 after a fourth grader brought a handgun onto the school bus and into school.

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