Supply issue forces Clayton County Schools to relax clear backpack mandate

Clayton County Schools is relaxing its clear backpack mandate temporarily because of supply chain issues in securing transparent backpacks.

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Clayton County Schools is relaxing its clear backpack mandate temporarily because of supply chain issues in securing transparent backpacks.

Clayton County students will not be turned away from school if they don’t have a clear book bag when classes begin next week.

The south metro Atlanta school system, which earlier this month mandated all book bags brought to its campuses be clear, has run into supply chain issues getting transparent backpacks for its 52,000-plus students.

As a result, students may bring non-transparent book bags until the district can furnish everyone with a clear backpack, Superintendent Morcease Beasley said Wednesday in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Principals know to allow the kids to carry the book bags,” Beasley said, adding that the backpacks will be inspected and restricted to lockers for the rest of the day. “They just can’t carry them around the school day.”

School systems across metro Atlanta are beefing up security measures because of increasing mass shootings, including the May massacre in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed. Rockdale County schools, like Clayton, will require students to carry clear book bags on campus while neighboring Henry County is hiring citizens to come into schools as “hall monitors” to back up principals and school resource officers.

Cobb County school leaders earlier this month passed a controversial measure that allows some employees to carry weapons on campus. The district has not said who those people will be other than to say it will not be teachers.

Beasley said he hopes the clear backpacks will be available in the first weeks of school. The district said outfitting all students with the book bags will cost the school system $1.1 million.

The superintendent said he was not sure how the backpacks will be distributed once they come in. He said the backpacks may go to elementary students first and build from there. He said parents can also buy transparent backpacks on their own.

“We’ll do our best to get them here by next week, but I don’t anticipate every book bag being here by next week given what we’re hearing from the supply chain,” he said.