The 10-inch by 12-inch lightweight SafeShields can slide into most bags and backpacks and the company says they offer "personal protection when terror strikes".
The entire graduating class at St. Cornelius Catholic School in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, were given the $150 shields as a gift by local company Unequal Technologies, which manufactures protective sports gear and, now, ballistic shields. If the shield is placed in front of the student, it could protect the front of their body as well.
Vito called it "a gift that hopefully they'll never have to use" but recognized its importance in light of the recent school shootings. Unequal Technologies President Rob Vito handed out the shields to the students during the graduation ceremony.
There have been 23 school shootings in 2018 alone.
But parents and guardians of students told the news outlet that while a bulletproof backpack may be extreme, it's necessary. "(The panels will) stop the most powerful handguns in the world, .44 magnums, .357 Sigs".
The school's principal, Barbara Rosini, requested the "vests" from Unequal Technologies, a ballistic armor company.
"You hear about these school shootings nearly weekly, and I can't believe that's where we are in our nation today, but that's the fact", they said.
Visitors are asked for driver's licenses before entering, and their information is entered in a database and searched against criminal records, Fox 29 reported.
"I worry about our kids", she said. "That's my job, to try to protect them, and I try to do the best I can".
They appeared "unsure just what to make of their "welcome to high school" gifts", said FOX 29's Bruce Gordon.