Backpacks Banned

Trying to avert back problems, middle school encounters parent problems

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

This year’s backpack ban at Rim Country Middle School has inflamed some parents who say their sixth-graders are struggling to carry possessions minus a convenient sack.

One parent spoke against the new pilot ban at a recent school board meeting, and another presented a petition with roughly 80 signatures seeking to reverse it.

Mother Jenee Morrow said her sixth0grader is “very frustrated at the beginning of the school day with everything she has to carry.” Water, books, personal hygiene material — the load is too heavy for her daughter to carry without a backpack, Morrow said.

Principal Gary Witherspoon said he called a meeting early this week to discuss the ban and receive parent input. The board could not comment at its meeting since the subject was not listed on the agenda.

Board member Rory Huff later said that the school is discussing the matter, and that it’s not currently a board issue.

Witherspoon says the policy’s main purpose is safety.

“Students will not have to carry a backpack full of books causing back problems, but a folder from class to class,” he wrote in a letter to sixth-grade parents.

Additionally, the school wanted to minimize space available for students to carry illegal “contraband” and clear classroom aisles so nobody trips.

Students who ride bikes to school or participate in sports and physical education may still carry packs to school for their clothes.

Sixth0grade was chosen to pilot the ban, which Witherspoon said would expand to seventh- and eighth-grades next year if successful.

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