Safety & Security

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Clear-Bag Fan Policies Find Their Way to High School Sports

7 Aug, 2019

By: Michael Popke

Last fall, high schools in Florida took the unprecedented security step of banning students from bringing backpacks into gymnasiums and onto fields for games.

Now, officials in Beaufort County (S.C.) School District are considering implementation of a clear-bag policy at all middle and high school sporting events this fall. The proposal — requested by high school athletic directors who cited safety concerns, according to The Island Packet in Hilton Head Island — would allow spectators to carry in one clear bag no larger than 12 by 6 by 12 inches and a clutch or wallet no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. Non-clear medical bags would be searched.

If enacted, the clear-bag policy would not be the first of its kind at the high school level, although many other schools only enforce such a policy at football games. The Leander (Texas) Independent School District recently became the latest district in Texas to require clear bags at all varsity football games, beginning this fall, and several districts in other states adopted similar security measures in 2018. Additionally, several college and professional teams already have such precautions in place.          

“In light of all the things that have been going on around the country … [t]his seems like the appropriate measure to take just to promote safety at all of our football games,” Alachua County Public Schools spokesperson Jackie Johnson told WCJB-TVi n Gainesville, Fla., last summer when the district implemented its clear-bag policy for football games. “It’s unfortunate that it reache[d] this point.”

At least one school board member in Beaufort County, however, questioned the logic behind use of clear bags only at sporting events.

“They don’t have to have clear bookbags in school,” William Smith said, according to The Island Packet. “So if we do clear bookbags for these facilities, then we need to do clear bookbags for all facilities at all times. It’s very controversial, because I don’t know what little Johnny or what little Bonnie’s parents can afford.”

As the paper reports, Superintendent Frank Rodriguez can implement a proposed clear-bag policy without board approval, because it would be an administrative regulation.

The topic is expected to be addressed again at a school board meeting in mid-August.

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