3 of 8 area high schools have backpack bans; One is decades old

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) --- Highland Park High students began their school week with a protest of a new rule banning carrying backpacks in between classrooms.

USD 501 officials said it’s being done over safety concerns and limited space in classrooms. They are now the third of eight area high school with a similar policy.

Those are schools are now:

  • Highland Park High School
  • Rossville High School
  • Silver Lake High School

The remaining five high schools that do not have the ban are:

  • Washburn High School
  • Topeka High School
  • Topeka West
  • Seaman High School
  • Shawnee Heights High

Silver Lake has had the ban in place for decades, according to Principal Brad Womack.

"Students once they get here in the morning they're expected to leave their backpacks in their lockers, and they go back and forth each class period,” he said.

The ban is clearly stated in Rossville’s Jr. and Sr. High student handbook.

Several middle schools also join the backpack policy due to spacing issues.

Seaman High School allows students to carry backpacks in between classes, but they must be placed under desks to keep the aisles clear.

Seaman students must also hand over cellphones to a teacher at the beginning of each class to eliminate distractions.

Most schools are also trying to eliminate the cellphone distraction.

Silver Lake implemented a new rule that bans the use of cellphones in the classroom recently after each student received a new Chromebook.

"We don't want them out in the classroom just because the need as an educational tool no longer exists with the ability for every student to have a chrome book. So any sort of research they need to do, anything a teacher would ask them to do, every student has access to it through their chrome book,” Womack said.

Administrators said school policies cater to what each school needs.