New rule will affect spectators at all Beaufort County middle and high school sporting events
By MIKE McCOMBS
If you are bringing a bag into a Beaufort County high school or middle school sporting event, it’s going to have to be a clear bag from now on.
The Beaufort County School District on Friday announced a clear-bag policy for all middle and high school athletic events.
“We were talking about this prior to the start of the school year,” Beaufort County School District Chief Operations Officer Robert Oetting said. “We were trying to get it out before school started.”
Instead, the district was able to get the policy implemented just in time for winter sports, particularly boys and girls basketball.
Oetting said the policy was not a reaction to any specific event. Similar practices are already in place at many college stadiums across the country and are becoming more and more common at the high school level.
“The S.C. High School League sent out a press release to all districts (prior to th school year), asking the school districts to consider such a policy,” Oetting said.
“This is just an additional safety measure to help our players and fans feel more secure at sporting events,” Whale Branch Early College High School Athletic Director Carlos Cave said in a release. “It’s something colleges and professional teams already have in place, and increasing numbers of South Carolina school districts are also using it.”
An unspecified threat forced the cancellation of the Beaufort-Battery Creek football game at Beaufort High earlier this fall.
Oetting would not comment on that specific threat but said, “there haven’t been any issues where there was a problem that this rule would have addressed.”
Uniformed law enforcement officers will continue their presence at larger sporting events and all other current safety policies will remain in place.
As for the letter of the rule itself, this is directly from the district’s press release:
“Spectators will be prohibited from entering athletic venues with clutch bags, camera bags, computer bags, luggage of any kind, backpacks, binocular cases, briefcases, fanny packs or and cinch/drawstring bags.”
“Fans will be allowed to carry two clear tote bags no larger than 12 inches high, 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep. A small clutch or wallet can be included in a clear tote if it’s no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. Folding chairs and blankets will still be allowed but are subject to search.”
“Clear tote bags will not be required in order to carry small permissible items such as keys, wallets, cell phones, credit cards and cash that should be carried in pockets.”
According to the release, the schools will have school-logo clear bags for sale at sporting events, but fans may also purchase their own clear bags – including gallon-sized zip-lock freezer bags – prior to events.
There are some exceptions to the new policy, once again, straight from the district’s release:
“Fans who can’t carry clear bags due to medical concerns will be required to speak with a designated gate administrator and have the medical bag searched. Diaper bags can be considered as medical bags.”
“Searched medical bags are the only non-clear bags an individual will be permitted to carry.”
According to Oetting, at any event that has a gate – meaning a way of ticketing and entry – this policy will be in place.
Once an individual enters an event, the individual will not be allowed to re-enter without going through the check-in procedures again.
Anyone found at an athletic event with a non-clear bag (with the exception of searched medical bags) will be required to leave the event immediately, according to the district release.