Wyoming Schools Aren’t Requiring Clear Backpacks Even As Shootings Increase

Even as school shootings across the country have increased, Wyoming schools have not yet started to require students to carry clear backpacks.

Ellen Fike

July 25, 20223 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

As school shootings continue to dominate headlines, more and more schools across the nation have begun to implement a new strategy: clear backpacks.

Wyoming’s schools have not yet started to follow this trend, according to Wyoming Department of Education spokeswoman Linda Finnerty.

“I have not found any [schools using clear backpacks] that we know of,” Finnerty told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “It would be a decision at the district level.”

The second largest school district in Texas announced last week that it would require students to wear clear or mesh backpacks. The requirement follows the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting in May that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

But the Texas district is just one of many across the nation that have already had the clear backpack requirement implemented or will be doing so for the upcoming school year.

Schools in Missouri, Georgia, Illinois and more have told its students that clear or mesh backpacks will be the only type of bag they can carry inside of the building, according to Bloomberg.

The executive director of school safety nonprofit group Safe Havens International, Michael Dorn, has been skeptical of the efficacy of clear backpacks, though, according to Bloomberg.

“Gun safety experts tend to be similarly skeptical of backpack rules. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re useless,” Dorn said. “But generally speaking, it’s very easy to conceal weapons in them.”

Students in Parkland, Florida were told to use clear backpacks following their campus being the site of the deadliest school shooting in history and its students were none too pleased about it, CNN reported in 2018.

Some students said the clear backpacks were an invasion of privacy and would do small acts of protest against them, such as writing messages telling school administrators how they felt about the bags.

Wyoming schools, at each district’s discretion, will also allow teachers to carry guns on campus. At least two districts in the state have allowed it: Park County School District No. 6 and Fremont County School District No. 1.

Fremont’s carrying policy has been in place for about three years, while Park’s was adopted in August 2020.

Other states that allow school employees to carry guns include Idaho, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota.

2019 study by researchers at the University of Toledo and Ball State University reviewed 18 years of school security measures, including placing more armed teachers in schools, and found no evidence of reduced gun violence, according to Vox.

According to the K-12 School Shooting database, Wyoming has had only two gun-related incidents in the last 40 years: an adult couple held 150 students and a teacher hostage and detonated a firebomb in the cafeteria in Cokeville in 1986, although no one was killed, and a person who died by suicide on the football field in Sheridan in 1993.

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Ellen Fike