Laptops and small purses are permitted.By Jessica Guay

STOWE TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — Sto-Rox Junior/Senior High School students returned to in-person learning with additional safety measures this week, including a backpack ban.

Students returned to classrooms on Monday after school officials had students learn remotely last week after a student was shot and killed in the community. An announcement posted for parents said backpacks are not allowed, but laptops and small purses are permitted.

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Some parents have been voicing their frustrations.

“These are revisited rules. They have done these before, but it’s not feasible. It’s a band-aid. Kids need their backpacks,” said parent Connie Deem.

“They have school books they have to carry, notebooks, none of that. You just want these kids to take their laptops and that’s it and small purses and that’s very inconsiderate,” said parent Kerya Fleming.

On Nov. 8, Hasson Shackelford was shot feet away from his house as he walked home from school. The Sto-Rox junior died at the hospital. On Tuesday, Allegheny County police said 15-year-old Tavarius Lee has been charged with criminal homicide and possession of a firearm by a minor related to the shooting.

“It’s very sad. My daughter actually knew him. He was a classmate of hers. She was just with him the same day, so it was very upsetting,” Fleming said.

The announcement from the high school’s assistant principals included the full list of the safety measures that have been put in place. They include, “Laptops and small purses will be permitted. Back Packs will not be permitted. No hats or hoods will be allowed to be worn during the school day. Students will be required to remove all jackets and hoodies upon entering the building to be searched. Additional law enforcement will be present on the premises.”

The assistant principals also wrote, “please keep in mind these measures are being taken to help ensure the safety and welfare of all students and staff and to create the best possible learning environment at the Sto Rox Jr/Sr High School.”

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Several parents think something else can be done about the backpacks.

“That’s not fair. … Just search the kid’s book bags like you normally did and go about it and just do your job,” Fleming said.

“There was a time when they instituted clear backpacks and clear bags, which is obviously helpful. More bag searches, do what they can,” Deem said.

Some parents are not against the book bag rule.

“I actually understand why that’s been put in place. When you live in a place with a high violence rate, it’s to be expected. I’m actually surprised it didn’t happen sooner,” Brandee Rabinek said.

They all hope the district and community can move forward

“We need to come together, we need to find these fixes, we need to reach out to these kids, figure out what they can do after school to keep them out of trouble,” said Deem.

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KDKA reached out to the district’s substitute superintendent for comment but did not hear back. There will be a school board meeting on Thursday night.