Student book bag pilot program – May 8

on April 27, 2017

Letter from Principal Kaste concerning use of backpacks during school

Dear parents and guardians,

Recently, we made our faculty and staff aware that we will be piloting some new guidelines regarding the use of backpacks during the school day. These guidelines were developed as a result of the research and concerns that were discussed over the course of this school year in Backpack Committee meetings.

There are two main safety concerns that are being addressed by the new guidelines. First, the excessive weight of our students’ backpacks can cause debilitating injuries over time. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the weight of a child’s backpack should be less than 10-15 percent of their body weight. Unfortunately, most students carry much more on their backs every day and over 14,000 children seek medical attention for backpack-related injuries each year. Secondly, students carrying large backpacks through the hallways during every passing time has led to unnecessary congestion in certain areas of the building. Students and adults alike have been hit and pushed by backpacks in the hallways causing minor injuries. The space that is occupied by the size of an average middle schooler’s backpack is like adding another person in the hallway, in effect, causing it to feel as though there are 3,400 students in the hallway, not 1,700.

In considering these concerns, there were many discussions regarding the positive aspects of backpacks during the school day. These points included students having access to all of their materials, as well as personal belongings. Together, we worked on this set of guidelines to promote a successful transition for our students as we move toward the trial period.

Please review the guidelines below and help us in assisting your child with thinking about their schedule and how to work locker visits efficiently and effectively into their school day. At the conclusion of the trial period, we will be sending a survey to be reviewed by the backpack committee in making a decision about the future of these guidelines. We look forward to hearing from all of you, as well as from students and faculty, in order to have the best possible understanding of what is best for our students.

Thanks for your support!


John Kaste
Principal, M-W MS

Guidelines for the Book Bag Pilot

Starting on May 8, 2017, Monroe-Woodbury Middle School will be conducting a pilot program which will explore new guidelines for book bags during the school day. Through committee discussions and research conducted, we believe it is in the best interests of our students to prohibit the use of book bags during the school day (8:15-3:00). The primary reasons for this change is to avoid physical injury and ensure our students’ safety.

Please review the following guidelines:

  • A book bag or backpack is defined as a bag large enough to carry a notebook,
    binder, or textbook
  • Purses or small handbags would still be permitted
  • During Advisory, students will work with their advisors to organize their schedule
    and plan appropriate times to visit their lockers
  • String bags or shopping bags will be permitted for the purpose of carrying a
    change of clothes to and from Physical Education classes ONLY
  • Students will be sent back to their lockers if they are carrying coats, jackets,
    sweatshirts, etc.
  • Instruments that do not fit inside of lockers should be kept in the band storage
  • Students will be expected to make every effort to attend all classes on time and
    the faculty and staff are asked to be reasonable with late arrivals during the
  • Faculty and staff are asked to be flexible with required materials necessary for

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