See-through bags are sign of the times

The new Altoona Area School District policy requiring see-through backpacks for secondary-school students is a sad — albeit necessary — commentary regarding the times in which today’s young people are being educated and growing up.

Parents, guardians and students should exercise restraint, as far as criticizing the policy is concerned, despite legitimate differences of opinion concerning loss of privacy. The basis for the policy’s implementation is students’ safety, as well as for the well-being of district teachers, administrators and other staff — as well as the public in general.

Like it or not, the policy is destined to become much more widespread, as long as schools cannot be spared from the growing specter of violence that is so prevalent in America at this time.

Altoona’s policy, applicable for students in grades 6 through 12, also applies to book and athletic bags.

Yet, even see-through backpacks, athletic bags and book bags will not be the cure-all for all of the potential problems and incidents that schools might encounter. Nonetheless, the new policy will be an important added component within the much broader security efforts in place.

Amid that, students will be getting a lesson in the reality that privacy is not an all-inclusive right or possibility within the real world, like it or not. Any of them who don’t believe that need only join one of the branches of the nation’s military services to help them gain a more complete perspective.

That “updated” perspective will be rooted firmly before they are too far along in basic training.

There are numerous other examples in life where privacy assumes the proverbial second place; no need to discuss them here, however.

Thinking related to the Altoona Area School Board’s backpack action on June 21, which was followed by an official email announcement to parents on July 6, was on target in the message it conveyed.

“We’re seeing younger kids with more access to weapons,” said Paula Foreman, the district’s community relations director.

“We have to adjust our security measures to have an environment conducive to learning,” she added, while rightly noting that the Altoona community in general is changing.

Other communities are changing as well. That is why numerous other school systems in this region are likely to follow the local district’s lead.

See-through backpacks are destined to remain a source of disagreement and controversy — even suspicion. It is reasonable to anticipate that some parents might regard the policy as an indication of problems in the schools about which they were not informed.

As reported in the Mirror’s July 10-11 edition, in May the Altoona district was informed about a social media post in which an individual appeared to threaten to bring a weapon to school. The school board’s decision to implement the backpack policy came less than a month after that social media post occurred.

Again, the backpack policy is an unfortunate, albeit important and necessary, reaction to the times.

The Altoona School District and any other district that opts in favor of such a policy, considering today’s safety challenges, merits praise, not criticism, for choosing to be proactive.

An overreaction it is not.


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