It has been about two weeks since students in Carter County went back to school, a big change for those students is a county-wide clear backpack policy. School leaders say this change is the first of other school safety enhancements to come.
Within the last five years, the images of violence at schools across America has become more prevalent and so have efforts to prevent that violence. Take Cloudland Elementary for example in Roan Mountain.
The school is one of 14 in the Carter County School system that recently made it mandatory that all students carry clear or mesh backpacks.
“Oh I like it, I think its good,” Kelly Julian said.
Kelly Julian has a granddaughter who attends Cloudland Elementary, she had mixed feelings about the change but is welcoming it with open arms.
“Change is good, with the way the schools and things are now with violence and everything, I would rather them have these then get their little designer backpacks and not know what is in them,” Julian said.
According to Carter County School administrators they did have few parents call to complain about the new policy, the bulk of the backlash came on social media.
On our Facebook page there were more than 100 comments from people in the community some excited about the change others outraged.
Danny McClain with Carter County Schools says the change was necessary.
“Clear or mesh backpack is something you can see through, it is something that allows somebody to see what is in that backpack,” McClain said.
For students who were not able to get their own clear or mesh backpack, no worry community organizations pitched in to donate some.
McClain says plans are actively in the works to improve safety for students in schools throughout the county. This is the first year that all schools now have armed school resources officers. McClain says other changes could be down the road specifically focusing on school sporting events.
“We have not actually instituting any new rules as far as athletic events, but I can tell you that has been a topic of conversation.”
Kelly Julian has no reservations to those future changes especially if it means keeping her grand daughter safe. We checked with other schools in the area and found Carter County Schools are the only with a clear backpack policy.