Students Push Back Against ‘No Backpack’ Rule

After reopening from quarantine, Longfellow was much more flexible on certain rules than in years past. Now, the 2022-2023 school year marks a return to normal. Lunch is confined to the cafeteria, students can’t use their phones, and backpacks are to stay in lockers throughout the school day. 

The rule on backpacks states that students are no longer allowed to carry backpacks during school hours.  This means that students have to carry all their items, including water bottles, binders, a computer and charger, a pencil pouch, and more.

“With our staff’s experience, when we had bags in the hallways last year, it was definitely an error,” said Principal Jim Patrick, referring to the hallway congestion they noticed last year. 

In addition to hallway safety hazards, teachers often complained of tripping hazards in crowded classrooms.   The result was to return to pre-covid and pre school-issued-computer rules.

“Just for clarification, this is not a new rule,” said Dr.Patrick. “This rule has been in place at Longfellow going back to the 1980s. We did not enforce the rule during the pandemic because we wanted to focus on other things.”

The current Longfellow student body has only attended the school during or after the pandemic, meaning that they haven’t experienced this backpack restriction in the past.  Students are frustrated trying to manage all the items.

“I keep dropping my stuff and losing things,” said 7th grader Nikitha Rajesh. “I dropped my cards in the hallway and had to pick them all up.”

Other students nodded in agreement.  “I won’t realize I’ve dropped something until I get to class,” added Amalia Torpy. 

Administrators and counselors, while willing to listen to complaints, have different methods of trying to solve the problems.  One method is strategic locker use.  The idea is not to carry all your materials for the day at once.  Though students also have concerns with this solution. 

“It causes more congestion in the hallways with everyone visiting their lockers,” pointed out Phin Holmes.  

Counselor Lorraine Marshall is sympathetic to students.

”I feel like we need to find a kind of happy medium,” said Marshall. “I do have a lot of empathy for students who have their laptop, and their charger, and their water bottle, and their binder, and their agenda, and their pencil pouch.”

That happy medium might include other types of carrying devices.  Some students have resorted to using tote bags or other types of bags to carry all their stuff. Administration has talked about getting string bags for everybody to carry all their stuff.  Another suggestion is strategic use of lockers.  With only four classes a day, one well-timed trip to a locker can cut the number of binders needed in half.  For issues with locker placement, talk to your counselor; you may be able to move to a better location.

Whatever the reasons for the change, students have tried to take action to allow backpacks.  Over 300 students have signed a petition to get rid of lockers and bring backpacks back. One comment on the site, where the petition can be found, says that the rule against backpacks is “extremely unnecessary and inconvenient” and that the school should reconsider.