Hopewell schools to provide clear backpacks for students

The school division says students have been making threats to other students
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 6:54 AM EST
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Hopewell City Public Schools says since a 6-year-old shot a teacher in Newport News, there have been “several instances” of elementary students verbally threatening other students.

“We also have had a few instances when a fake/toy gun has been brought to school,” the school division said.

Investigations have revealed that no guns or real threats have been found.

In response, the school division says, “we are soon launching a new measure - clear backpacks for all elementary students. We will provide more details on this soon, but we plan to provide a clear, see-through backpack to every elementary student by late March so that we can better ensure that nothing inappropriate is brought into our elementary schools.”

While the see-through backpacks are intended to make everyone feel safer, NBC12 Security Expert Mike Jones points out that other items inside a bag can still conceal a gun.

What it does is, ‘oh, we’ve got the plastic bags nobody can bring anything in so we can lower our guard’ I think it’s counterproductive,” Jones said.

He says the bigger problem is that there needs to be more training for staff to detect and report student behavioral issues.

”You can almost feel the tension in a school when things are getting ready to happen. There are behavioral characteristics. It’s like a fuse on the old time bomb that’s sparking,” said Jones.

The school division also encourages parents to talk to children about the issue and that they could be removed from school by making a threat.

Child Savers, a group providing support services for Hopewell students, recommends parents talk to their children about the heavy emotions of gun violence and anger.

”We need to be honest with our kids that we’re worried too,” said Bob Nickles with Child Savers. “Violence impacts us too. If there’s gunshots in my neighborhood, I want to model some of my emotional process for my kids without having my kids have to take care of my emotions, so I may say I get really worried or scared. Here’s what I do.”

Read the division’s complete statement below: