Idaho students bring shopping carts after school district bans bags over gun violence

Jefferson School District's response to gun violence leaves parents fuming as students seen carrying carts, aquariums to school to mock backpack ban


                            Idaho students bring shopping carts after school district bans bags over gun violence
Screenshots from TikTok showing students' alternatives after a backpack ban (@sav.bag/TikTok)
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School students in the Jefferson School District 251 of Idaho were forced to get creative after a backpack ban was instituted in late September. Four schools forced students to find alternatives after the ban, in response to two incidents of gun violence recorded over the past six months. The drastic plan has been slammed by parents and led to one student going viral after a TikTok showing some bizarre alternatives - from shopping carts to aquariums. 

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Rigby Middle School, which is part of the district made headlines in May after a teacher Krista Gneiting managed to disarm a sixth-grader, who shot three students. In a similar incident in April, a Minnesota assistant principal disarmed a sixth grader before anyone could get hurt. To date, at least 16 school shootings have been recorded in 2021, with only a few prevented including a planned mass shooting in Pennsylvania on the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

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Most schools have struggled to respond to the surge in shootings, with few good options available. Some have resorted to arming teachers, or metal detectors, but the Jefferson School District decided to go in an entirely different direction. Instead of adopting any of these more reasonable measures, the district instituted a backpack ban at Rigby Middle School, Farnsworth Middle School, and both Rigby and Jefferson High Schools.

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Rigby High School in Idaho. (Rigby High School/Facebook)

'Removing backpacks is not a solution'

The ban was instituted on September 23, just days after a gun was found in the bag of a 13-year-old. "We are doing this as a precautionary measure," noted spokeswoman Monica Pauley. She added, "Elementary schools will still be able to have backpacks." Instead, students were asked to carry their books to school and place them in lockers. Teachers and administrators were also roped in to "help students wherever necessary". 

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The move didn't go down too well with some parents though. One parent, Megan Humble took to Facebook to slam the district's decision. "So what do we need to do Rigby? Sign a petition? Take this into our own hands and fundraise for Metal detectors?" she asked. Humble added, "Removing backpacks is not a solution. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. It’s like slapping a bandaid in a severed artery and hoping it stops the bleeding." Her post quickly went viral, with other parents chipping in to slam the decision. 

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However, the district has stuck with its decision on the ban, forcing students to find some creative ways to carry their books around. The level of innovation was on full display thanks to Savannah Bagley, a junior at Rigby High School who recorded the bizarre alternatives on TikTok.

'America will do anything but ban guns'

Bagley uploaded two TikTok videos showcasing just how students were coping with the ban. "I saw someone walk past my car holding a box and I could just tell that this day was going to be so funny," she told East Idaho News. "The kids at my school are so creative. I was just cracking up all day. I saw a kid carrying a chair upside down holding his books today," she added. Since being posted, the video has had over 600,000 views and a massive jump to over 3,000 followers.

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Amongst the many alternatives visible were baby strollers, shopping carts, wagons, aquariums, and even water coolers. She said the video was made to show "how creative the people at my school are. It has nothing to do with politics." She also noted it had "nothing to do with being for or against banning backpacks." The videos quickly went viral, gaining massive views and an equally bizarre set of comments. "Innovation at its finest," one person said. Another noted, "I love living in America. The drama. The thrill." One user mocked, "America will do anything but ban guns."

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In response to the sudden publicity, the school said the ban was "a temporary thing until we get a more permanent fix." Superintendent Chad Martin said the schools were working with students to come up with solutions, but in the meantime, he urged students to "enjoy" the present situation. 

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