KNOX COUNTY, Ky. — A new school year for many children will begin next month, and one Kentucky school district is taking measures to keep children safe.

New protocol for a backpack ban in Knox County Public Schools will go into effect during the 2022-2023 school year.  

What You Need To Know

  • Knox County Public Schools is home to nearly 4,100 students

  • The district will ban backpacks at the middle and high school level  

  • Frank Shelton serves as the spokesperson for the district 

  • Shelton said the backpack ban is one way to improve “overall school safety"

With concerns about gun violence at the forefront, schools across the country are looking at extra safety measures for the upcoming school year. Knox County Public Schools is just one more district trying to do their part to keep students safe.

“Really, the need for a backpack is dramatically decreasing,” said Frank Shelton, spokesperson for the district.

That finding led Knox County Public Schools to decide to ban backpacks for their middle and high schools. Previously, two of its ten schools already had the ban in place.

Shelton said it’s a way to improve overall school safety. He emphasized backpacks were leading to tripping hazards, and students were often carrying unnecessary loads. 

“It’s a win-win for us no matter which direction you look at,” said Shelton.

Shortly after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Shelton said Knox County went to the drawing board. The district installed metal detectors in all 10 of its schools where students got their belongings searched.

Now as the curriculum shifts to digital resources, he said it was a no brainer to ban backpacks.

“That was one part of the actual decision making. How necessary are backpacks?” said Shelton.

Kentucky Center for School Safety’s recent data shows weapon related incidents in schools in the Commonwealth are the second most common behavioral incident after assault or violence. Shelton said the backpack ban is a work in progress, and no solution will be perfect.

“Just like prohibiting those backpacks at middle and high, those metal detectors are just one additional thing that we have. They’re not the perfect solution, nor is banning backpacks,” he explained. “It’s all one step closer to having a safer school.”

Students that need purses for personal reasons are still permitted to bring those. As for athletes, students can bring backpacks for sports as long as they are stored in a secure place with school administration and searched.

Knox County will join Marshall County Public Schools with their backpack ban. The first day of school for Knox County is August 10.