One Midlands school district is making changes to increase security at high school sporting events — four weeks into the football season.
Richland One School District announced it is implementing a clear bag policy for all varsity football and basketball games.
There is now a list of specific bags that fans attending games will be permitted to bring with them to stadiums and gymnasiums. Perhaps more importantly, there is a even larger list of prohibited bags.
“This clear bag policy will increase security at sporting events and make entry into events smoother and faster for fans,” Richland One director of security and emergency services Joe Fraley said in a news release. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
The policy goes into effect for Friday’s football games, Richland One said.
The high schools affected by Richland One’s new bag policy include A.C. Flora, Columbia High, Dreher, Eau Claire, C.A. Johnson, Keenan and Lower Richland.
The clear bag policy is not a reaction to a single incident, Richland One spokeswoman Karen York told The State. It is an additional security measure, to go along with metal detectors, which York said the district has used for more than 10 years.
“High school football season has begun, but we have been working on preparations for implementation, including signage about the policy that will be installed at our stadiums,” York said. “As we begin the initial rollout, we will work with fans who may not have heard about the new policy prior to their arrival, particularly for the football games scheduled to be held in the next couple of weeks.”
Richland One joins Richland Two and Lexington-Richland 5 as other area school districts with a clear bag policy.
Richland Two became the first Midlands school district to implement the policy in January, according to spokeswoman Libby Roof.
Lexington-Richland 5 added the policy prior to the current fall sports season, The State reported. Other safety measures for L-R 5 athletic events include metal detectors, bag searches and “requiring adult supervision for students in eighth grade and younger.”
A clear bag policy is not currently in place for Lexington One and Lexington Two, according to spokeswomen for those school districts.
While it has been discussed in Lexington Two, a formal proposal has not been made to the school board, spokeswoman Dawn Kujawa told The State.
Lexington One spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said the school district is constantly reviewing security procedures, but it has not added the clear bag policy this year, as it is using “more law enforcement officers at sporting events.”
Richland One can look to its neighbors at the University of South Carolina, which already has a clear bag policy for its sporting events at Williams-Brice Stadium, Colonial Life Arena and the rest of its athletic venues.
USC’s policy began during the 2016-2017 athletic season, The State reported.
▪ Clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags that do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12” – A logo no larger than 4.5” x 3.4” can be displayed on one side of a permissible clear bag.
▪ One-gallon clear plastic freezer bags (Ziploc bags or similar)
▪ Small clutch bags no larger than 4.5” x 6.5” (approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap)
These bags include, but are not limited to:
▪ Purses larger than a clutch bag
▪ Fanny packs
▪ Cinch/drawstring bags
▪ Luggage of any kind
▪ Computer bags
▪ Diaper bags
▪ Binocular cases
▪ Camera bags
▪ Non-approved seat cushions, which include large traditional seat cushions that have pockets, zippers, compartments or covers
SOURCE: Richland One