The Beaufort County School District has instituted a clear bag policy for all middle and high school athletic events.
The policy was "up and running" as of Nov. 22, according to District spokesman James Foster. "The first sporting events to be affected will be (in December) and include basketball games and wrestling matches," Foster said.
The practice is similar to those already in place at university stadiums across the country and is not a response to any specific event, district officials said. The idea for the new policy came from the district's middle and high school athletic directors.
"This is just an additional safety measure to help our players and fans feel more secure at sporting events," said Whale Branch Early College High School Athletic Director Carlos Cave. "It's something colleges and professional teams already have in place, and increasing numbers of South Carolina school districts are also using it."
Bluffton High School Athletic Director Cody Slaughter said there will continue to be uniformed law enforcement officers at heavily attended sporting events. "This new policy is in addition to the effective security measures we currently use," Slaughter said.
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, district officials said.
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. Prohibited items include weapons, drugs, alcohol, any tobacco products, alternative nicotine products and electronic smoking devices.
Schools will sell school-logo clear bags at sporting events, but fans may also purchase their own clear bags - including gallon-sized zip-lock freezer bags - prior to events.
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. Gate administrators will not allow non-clear bags for any other purpose, including but not limited to purses larger than a clutch bag, camera bags, computer bags, luggage of any kind, backpacks, binocular cases, briefcases, fanny packs or and cinch/drawstring bags.
Once an individual has received clearance to enter the event, the individual will not be allowed to re-enter without going through the check-in procedures a second time.
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, district officials said.
An explanatory video can be found on YouTube by searching "Beaufort County clear bags."