The Southwest Independent School District has announced a new policy that will go into effect Monday prohibiting backpacks, sling bags, messenger bags and purses on all district campuses for the remainder of the school year. The move is being made to reduce distractions due to fake social media threats, the district said.
“As we approach the end of the school year, we have noticed an increase in fake social media threats at schools across the city,” SWISD spokeswoman Jenny Collier said in a statement.
Small bags and clutches measuring 5½ inches by 8½ inches or smaller, clear bags measuring 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches or smaller and 1-gallon clear zip-close freezer bags measuring 12 inches by 12 inches or smaller will be permitted under the new policy.
Students involved in extracurricular activities such as sports or band may bring a backpack, but it must be put away during designated times set by the campus, according to Collier.
The district is encouraging students, parents, and families to talk about what items are and are not allowed on campus. Weapons of any kind or items that look like weapons, such as knives, BB guns or toy guns, are not permitted on school property and will not be tolerated under any circumstances, according to the district.
In a letter to parents, the district reminded parents and students “that if they see something, say something.”
“Anonymously report situations where someone may be in danger of harming themselves or others,” the letter said.
The new policy is part of the district’s ongoing efforts to maintain a safe environment for everyone.
“We believe that safety is a shared responsibility, and we request your cooperation in maintaining a safe environment for everyone,” said the letter.
For more information on the No Backpack Policy, visit www.swisd.net/nobackpacks.
Non-credible threats on social media have been a persistent problem this year, including one against San Antonio Independent School District on Friday. A police investigation found the threat was not credible after an investigation, according to an alert sent to parents and shared online.
The Bexar County Sheriff has created a School Task Force with a focus on Southwest and Northside ISDs in response to a string of violent incidents in the surrounding area in recent months. The task force has made several arrests related to threats against schools.