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District 55 sets supply drive for clear backpacks as safety measures expanded

Laurens County School District 55 parents learned early this month that clear backpacks will be required in all schools, and the school district has set Monday, Aug. 1, 5 to 7 p.m., for its annual School Supply Drive Through to provide clear backpacks and supplies for its students.

Families bill have to be pre-registered and students will need to be present in the vehicle.

The clear backpacks are the latest safety measure taken by the district in response to two separate handgun discoveries in different schools within the district this past semester. 

In early June, District 55 announced its plans to install metal detector doors at Laurens District High School and wands at each of the other schools within the district to enhance security. District 55 Superintendent Dr. Ameca Thomas also said during that June meeting that the district was considering clear backpacks, and now that’s been confirmed for this upcoming 2022-2023 school year. 

“We feel that this is another way to help provide a safe teaching and learning environment in District 55,” Thomas said. 

However, students will be permitted to have non-transparent lunch bags, pencil pouches, and purses that do not exceed a size of 6″X9.”

Students in extracurricular activities may carry non-transparent bags to store items pertaining to their particular activity, such as band and athletics, but warns that these bags are all subject to being searched by law enforcement and school officials. When they arrive, students will store them in lockers or specific areas established by the school. 

Other changes include the option of random searches of campuses, a gun safety curriculum and drug and article dogs which will be in schools on a regular basis. 

“As we implement new safety measures, we know that it may require all of us to make some adjustments,” Thomas said. “I am asking that all parents, guardians, students and staff work together to make District 55 an example of a school district untouched by violence. Let’s make the news reports for the excellent things we have to offer, not negativity.” 

The event will be held on the campus of the district administrative office located at 301 Hillcrest Drive in Laurens and the event is open to all students enrolled in the school district for this 2022-2023 school year. 

District 55 has offered school supplies for several years, and the district needs pre-registration to determine the supplies needed for the many different grade levels. Students will receive a clear backpack, school supplies relevant to their grade level. There is no cost to participate and parents will need to register at EventBrite.com, specifically at the link, https://SchoolSupplyDrive.eventbrite.com. Parents may also call the district administrative office at 864-984-3568. Each student must be registered separately and resent in the vehicle, Thomas explained. 

The list of supplies the students will receive includes clear backpacks, pencils, pens, notebooks, colored pencils and markers. Any member of the community who would like to contribute supplies can drop them off at the administrative office. 

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