In an effort to ensure more safety at football games, Columbia Public Schools (CPS) implemented a new no-backpack policy for all middle and high school sporting events.
Sharla Hyler, guidance secretary, sent an email in the Spartan Mailer last month outlining the new policy.
“At the home football game, we will be implementing a no backpack policy and a no re-entry policy to the game for any reason,” the Spartan Mailer said. “Please be advised that no student will be permitted to enter with a bag of any kind, so please make plans accordingly.”
The new policy comes during a wave of gun violence in Missouri. In August, police responded to reports of shots fired during two high school jamborees near St. Louis.
Michelle Baumstark, spokeswoman for CPS, said the district tested out the policy during Battle’s game against Rock Bridge in September.
“We chose to pilot it to initially work out any issues before implementing it for the rest of the district and out of town teams playing in Columbia,” Baumstark said in an email. “The pilot went very well and the rules are now in effect for all athletic events at middle and high schools.”
Alex Huck, athletic director, said the new policy is to ensure safety at sporting events.
“The policy eliminates many concerns about safety when students are allowed to bring backpacks. It eliminates weapons. It eliminates other illegal substances,” Huck said. “So it ensures not just the safety of our students, but also the safety of our visitors and community members that want to watch sporting events.”
Some students approve of the new policy; however, Summer Evans said she believes the new policy could create roadblocks for students who want to attend a game.
“Some students don’t have the ability to go home before a football game or have access to put their backpacks in a locker or car,” Evans said.
Brooke Anich, junior, said she is in support of the new policy, adding that most venues that bring in large groups of people, such as concerts, have similar bag policies.
“It’s not rare for venues to have policies like this,” Anich said. “A lot of colleges and concert venues have or are switching their bag policies.”
At the University of Missouri, visitors must follow a clear bag policy while attending football games. The clear bag policy was implemented by the Southeastern Conference (SEC) during the 2017 season in the interest of enhancing existing security measures at games.
Baumstark mentioned that the district is considering implementing a clear bag policy next year.