Several Houston-area school districts implement ‘No Backpacks’ policy for Friday due to social media trend

Officials from four Houston-area school districts have implemented a ‘No Backpack’ policy for Friday, Dec. 17 after officials were made aware of a new “social media” challenge.

According to their websites, 6th-12th graders from the following districts will be prohibited from wearing backpacks out of an abundance of caution:

  • Alief ISD
  • Channelview ISD
  • Fort Bend ISD
  • Katy ISD
  • Lamar Consolidated ISD
  • Royal ISD
  • Spring ISD
  • Waller ISD

Klein Independent School District also released a statement regarding an investigation for what they said is a “general threat toward all U.S. schools” on what some declare “American School Shooting Day.”

“These challenges encourage students to disregard safety measures and promote violence on campus,” LCISD’s Superintendent Dr. Roosevelt Nivens wrote in a statement.

Details about the social media challenge suggest that it provokes students to bring violence to their school campuses Friday.

This is not the first time social media trends have become an issue for students and school staffers. Back in September, school officials found themselves dealing with students who were participating in the “Devious Lick” challenge, which encouraged them to steal school property.

SEE ALSO: Some Houston-area students damaging school bathrooms for TikTok challenge

FBISD’s website stated, “We are taking this action in the wake of several social media sites challenging students nationwide to threaten their schools. This issue is far beyond just Fort Bend ISD. We want you to know that over the past several days our Fort Bend ISD police officers have investigated social media allegations and rumors that individuals would cause harm on our campuses.”

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said authorities are aware of the nationwide social media threats.

“However, several school districts have increased security today,” Gonzalez said on Twitter. “At this time, there are no known threats to schools in our region but we will continue to monitor the situation and work with all public safety partners.”

Below are the full statements from some Houston-area districts:

Katy Independent School District:

“Dear Katy ISD Parents/Guardians and Staff,

School districts have recently been informed by law enforcement agencies of a trending Tik Tok challenge that encourages students to threaten gun violence on Friday, December 17. While no Katy ISD campus or facility has received such a threat, I do want you to know that our campus administrators and Katy ISD Police are on alert and are actively monitoring social media and tips for any information that may relate to the challenge and our schools. Any student found to be engaged in such activity would face disciplinary consequences in accordance with state and local law enforcement and the Katy ISD Discipline Management and Student Code of Conduct.

To minimize disruptions to the instructional day, as well as any potential concerns about the Tik Tok posts, it is recommended that secondary (6th through 12th grade) students leave their backpacks at home tomorrow. Also, out of an abundance of caution, additional police officers have been assigned to patrol our junior high and high school campuses on Friday.

I appreciate your support and understanding, and look forward to a productive and safe school day tomorrow.

Ken Gregorski, Ed.D.

Superintendent”

Waller Independent School District:

“Waller ISD (WISD) is aware of several inappropriate social media challenges, especially on TikTok, that have been “trending” nationwide. These challenges encourage students to disregard safety measures and promote violence on campus.

No threat has been made against any of our campuses, however, as a proactive measure WISD is implementing a NO BACKPACK POLICY for Friday, Dec. 17 for all students in grades 6-12. Any student who attends Waller High School, Waller Junior High, or Schultz Junior High will not be allowed to carry a backpack to school tomorrow, Dec. 17, including on a WISD school bus.

The district is asking parents of secondary students to ensure backpacks are left at home and to talk with their child about the consequences of their actions. Please remind students that anything that could threaten the safety of our schools should be reported immediately to an administrator, law enforcement, or via Anonymous Alerts.

If you have any questions, please contact your child’s campus administrator.”

Fort Bend Independent School District:

“Out of an abundance of caution, the district is asking all middle and high school students to leave their backpacks at home tomorrow, Friday Dec. 17, 2021.

We are taking this action in the wake of several social media sites challenging students nationwide to threaten their schools. This issue is far beyond just Fort Bend ISD.

We want you to know that over the past several days our Fort Bend ISD police officers have investigated social media allegations and rumors that individuals would cause harm on our campuses. Our investigators have been very successful [in] locating individuals responsible for the posts. Please know that consequences will be significant and will include any and all applicable criminal charges.

Please speak with your child about the importance of reporting information. Students should report anything they consider threatening or unsafe to a campus administrator, teacher, or trusted adult. Students, staff and our families can also submit information through the Fort Bend ISD Crime Stoppers program at (281) 491-TIPS, through the See Something, Share Something app, or by contacting the Fort Bend ISD Police Department directly at (281) 634-5500.

Thank you in advance for cooperating with tomorrow’s instructions to leave backpacks at home. For most, this is not a novel request since traditionally many secondary students have been previously directed to not bring backpacks to school on early dismissal Fridays before a holiday break.

As we find ourselves in situations that are somewhat “no-win”, we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Let’s all do our part to have a peaceful, orderly half-day at school tomorrow prior to a much-needed winter break.”

Lamar Consolidated Independent School District:

Lamar CISD Parents,

I want to inform you that the District is aware of, and closely monitoring, several inappropriate social media challenges that have been “trending” nationwide. These challenges encourage students to disregard safety measures and promote violence on campus. While there have been no threats made against any of our campuses, I want to remind our community that the safety of every student, staff member, and guest is always our first priority.

As a proactive measure, Lamar CISD has decided to implement a No Backpack Policy for secondary students in grades 6-12 for Friday, December 17.

Please ensure that your student leaves their backpack at home.

If there is ever an emergency situation or a credible concern for student safety, parents will always be notified. Additionally, Lamar CISD takes all threats, even those meant in jest, seriously, and students who make these types of comments will receive appropriate disciplinary action.

Please remind your children that if they hear or see anything that could threaten the safety of our school community, to tell an adult as soon as possible—nothing is too small. As this semester comes to an end, I want to take a moment to remind our students of the importance of their actions and continuing to do the right thing. Here in Lamar CISD, we pride ourselves in believing that our students strive to make good decisions and I commend them for the leadership they display daily.

On behalf of all of us here in Lamar CISD, I would like to extend my appreciation for a great fall semester during these challenging times. Words cannot express my gratitude for your continued support and dedication towards our District.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other concerns in Lamar CISD, please email Communications@LCISD.org.”

Klein Independent School District:

“We recently learned of an anonymous, nationwide threat against schools that is being shared on social media sites such as TikTok and SnapChat.

The general threat toward all U.S. schools declares Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, as “American School Shooting Day.”

The posts being widely shared warn about the possibility of nationwide shootings or bomb threats associated with this day.

The Klein ISD Police Department continues to investigate whether there are any local connections to these social media posts. At this time, Klein ISD Police have not acquired any evidence that would deem these threats as credible in our district.

Families, please talk to your children about the serious nature of making threats. Serious legal repercussions exist for making threats, even if they are posted as a prank or joke. Klein ISD takes these hoaxes very seriously and will work to prosecute perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.

We always encourage anyone with knowledge about threats to immediately inform campus administration, the Klein ISD Police Department 24/7 at (832) 249-4266, or use the Keep Klein Safe anonymous reporting tool to send us information via the web at https://kleinisd.net/keepkleinsafe. See it? Say it! Don’t spread it! Report it!

We are very thankful to the numerous individuals who directly sent us tips about this threat using our KeepKleinSafe website. Please, continue to send us tips for anything you see that causes you concern or you think we should know about.

Additionally, the Klein ISD Police Department has started a multi-part series to educate and inform families on monitoring and securing their child’s phones and electronic devices. The first video in the series can be viewed at https://news.kleinisd.net/?p=15839.

Sincerely,

David Kimberly

Klein ISD Chief of Police”


About the Author:

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.