Oxford will require clear backpacks for middle, high school students

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Oxford Community Schools has added a second police officer at its middle school and is requiring students in grades 6-12 to use clear backpacks when classes resume, according to an update from the district's superintendent this week.

Superintendent Tim Throne detailed the changes and provided written and video updates on Wednesday to families that said work continues over the holiday break to prepare Oxford High School for reopening.

On Nov. 30 the high school was the scene of the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since 2018. Four students were killed after a student allegedly opened fire inside the school.

Oxford Community Schools is requiring all high school and middle school students to carry clear backpacks.

No date was given for the high school to reopen but Throne last said that the Oakland County district hoped to reopen the building by the end of January.

"We continue to make progress in the reconstruction of Oxford High School and we are working through the enormous number of logistics involved in our safe and soft reopening plan," Throne wrote in a post on the school's website on Wednesday. "We will communicate additional details early next week."

Throne announced the district has scheduled two tele-town halls; one from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and another from 11 a.m. to noon on Thurdsay. No further information was provided. 

When elementary and middle school students return on Monday, Throne said there will be therapy dogs, counselors, trauma specialists and private security in all buildings. The measures will be in place through the end of the school year in June, he said.

"Our staff has undergone trauma-response training to be as prepared as possible to help our students. They are using the best practices and data from trauma specialists and crisis response experts who have helped in our planning and training," Throne wrote in the update.

Throne said all high school and middle school students would be provided clear backpacks large enough to hold Chromebooks.

"Thanks to the generosity of so many in our community, we now have enough clear backpacks so all high school, middle school, and Bridges (high school) students will be provided one upon their return," Throne said in the post. "Please do not send your student with their regular backpacks to school on Monday or other school materials and expect a clear backpack to come home with your student."

Elementary school students will not be required to use clear backpacks and will be able to bring their regular backpacks to school on Jan. 3, Throne said. The district's new policy is that elementary students must keep their backpacks in their lockers or cubbies all day and will not be allowed to carry them throughout the day, Throne said.

Throne also said police have issued search warrants in their investigation into threats that closed Oxford schools the week of Dec. 13.