School district in Florida asks students not to bring backpacks to school on Friday

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — A school district in Florida is asking it's middle school and high school students to not bring backpacks to school on Friday. This comes just nine days after a gunman opened fire on a Florida high school killing 17 people.

The School District of Manatee County made the announcement Thursday night, stating that the decision was due to the high number of school lockdowns and the excessive number of school threats. The district says the ban is for Friday only, unless they decide otherwise. 

"We are asking that all middle and high school students refrain from bringing backpacks to school tomorrow, Friday, February 23rd," the school district said in an electronic phone message that went out to all middle and high school parents in the district.

However, students will be able to bring backpacks again by Monday.


A spokesman for Manatee County Schools tells ABC Action News that there have been at least 10 school threats in the district in the past week, resulting in six students being arrested and charged with felonies.

"When a school goes into lockdown over a threat of, for example, 'I'm going to (something violent)....' and the student is on campus or makes a threat that the campus is in imminent danger — from the inside — every student backpack must be searched," said Charlie Kennedy, with Manatee County Schools. "This "NO backpacks on Friday" edict was just to give staff and law enforcement a break from having to bring education to a halt for hours while everyone is searched."

"We know this might cause an inconvenience to some, but all of the extra stress surrounding our schools this week has had a taxing toll on school administrators and staff, as well as local law enforcement officials," the message continued.

The school district has not stated what students are allowed to carry their books in, ABC Action News has reached out to the district and is waiting for a response.

"Again, we are asking all middle and high school students to refrain from bringing backpacks to school tomorrow, Friday, February 23rd," the message from the school stated. "We appreciate your support in this request as we strive to improve the safety and security of all of our schools. Thank you, and have a good evening."

Mary Stringini is a Digital Producer for ABC Action News. Follow her on Twitter @MaryWFTS.

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