Middlesex School District Requires All Students To Use Clear Backpacks To Keep Out ‘Prohibited Items’

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South River Public Schools District in Middlesex County just announced it will require all K-12 students to use clear backpacks, although some parents say this is an invasion of children’s privacy. The community was informed of this change by Superintendent Sylvia Zircher (full letter below), who said this was  an “extra measure” to keep prohibited items out of schools.

Advance Media reports that high school students had to use clear backpacks since 2019. Now K-8 students will do as well. Each student will receive one clear backpack; replacements are $7 each. Students are allowed to carry lunch boxes if they keep them in their locker and small handbags that can’t be larger than a half a sheet of legal-sized paper.

“I think it’s a little excessive,” said Patrick McDonnell, a junior at South River High School. “I really don’t think kids that young need a clear backpack.” This practice isn’t common in NJ schools, although Lakewood started requiring clear backpacks after a student came to school with a gun in his bag. Zircher said, ““We understand our youngest children do not intend harm, but this procedure protects them from innocently bringing potentially harmful items to school.”


Dear Parents and/or Guardians,

We hope that you are enjoying your summer break! In preparation for next school year, we will be refining
our current safety protocol and procedures. In doing so, we will be implementing the mandatory use of
clear backpacks starting this upcoming school year for all of our schools. This is something that many
districts have adopted over the last several years and something that the high school instituted during the
2019-2020 school year and has continued to require. The use of clear backpacks is just an “extra” measure
in keeping prohibited items from entering our schools.
● One clear backpack will be provided at no cost to parents to each of our South River Public School
● Backpack pick up days will be announced by each school.
● If you do not wish to use the school issued clear backpack for school, you may purchase a clear
backpack of your own.
● Extra clear bags will be available for purchase ($7.00) at each school’s main office if you need a
replacement or additional bag.
● Small handbags for personal items are still allowed but should not exceed the size of a half sheet of
● Lunch boxes are allowed but should be left in locker/lunch bin until lunch time and returned at the
end of lunch

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