Parents face new expense after delays with Clayton Co. clear backpack shipments

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A supply chain delay has thrown some Clayton County families into a frenzy days before the academic year starts.

Vendor shipments of clear backpacks are delayed, according to Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Morcease Beasley. The district imposed a clear bag mandate for the 2022-2023 school year and spent more than a million dollars on about 53,000 bags for students.

“They’re not going to get a load of books on day one, and if they do – I’m sure the schools will be sensitive that they may not have the book packs and work with the school on that end,” said Dr. Beasley. “That’s a problem I believe parents and students and teachers and principals can work on.”

Clear bags were supposed to be distributed to families at back-to-school events leading up to the first day of class. However, some families noticed the bags were nowhere to be seen at some of the events.

“It’s kind of confusing right now,” said Dr. Connie Kitchens with two children at Clayton County Schools. “I feel we should have had an alternative plan in place.”

Dr. Beasley said the district expected the full shipment of clear bags to be delivered within the first two weeks of school, but that goal hinges on the suppliers.

Despite the shortage, the district’s clear bag mandate remains in effect.

“If it be the case where a student comes to school with something that is not clear, the school has something in place that they may confiscate the backpack,” said Dr. Beasley.

Confiscated fabric or “netted” bags would be returned to students at the end of the day.

Families who cannot find or afford clear backpacks should expect to carry their books and school supplies on campus.

“Kids carrying books is not new. If they don’t have funds, tell your children you don’t have funds and move forward,” said Dr. Beasley. “I’ve carried books before. Kids – that is a human experience.”

Dr. Beasley couldn’t say how many bags had gone out as of July 29, but shared “bags are coming in as we speak.” He did not share how the district decides which families get priority over the incoming shipments.

Some parents gearing up for the new school year said they’re seeing the clear bag shortage for themselves.

Rashita Thompson said she couldn’t find any clear bags at her local Walmart.

“It’s hard to get the clear backpacks when you don’t know where they’re at,” said Thompson.

Other families – especially those with multiple students in the district – did not budget to buy the bags themselves.

Dr. Kitchens said the situation is an opportunity for families to help one another.

“For those parents who cannot afford to pay the $30 dollars for the clear bags, let’s pull the community together and try to find these bookbags at Amazon, Walmart, Target, wherever they are,” she said. “Let’s purchase enough to give those families until the county can get the bags in that they’ve ordered.