DOWNTOWN – Metal detectors, clear bags, and no re-entry. They sound like the rules for most pro sports venues, but they will go into effect immediately at St. Louis Public Schools venues in the wake of a shooting death at a Public High League game last week.
Jurnee Thompson, an 8-year-old girl, was shot to death after a fight at Soldan Tigers Football Field sprawled to a nearby restaurant.
Though the shooting didn’t take place on SLPS property, the district is preemptively making immediate changes to how they staff and allow entry into sporting and school auditorium events.
“Football season starts this weekend. It is the first sports season of the school year, and we felt the time was now to make adjustments,” SLPS Superintendent Dr. Kelvin R. Adams stated in a press release.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Wayne Walker, a former PHL football player. “People carry guns, and people will be scared to go to a football game because they’re scared it will happen again.”
“It’s a shame that even at a game, a kid can get killed because of other people shooting each other when people are trying to enjoy themselves,” he added.
Earlier this week, the St. Louis Blues and the Enterprise Center announced that a new “clear bag” policy would go into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
“Many school districts, along with sports and entertainment venues, in our region are reviewing and updating their security policies, especially in light of the increased gun violence we are seeing our community,” Adams said in his statement.
SLPS middle and high school students already have bag checks and metal detection.
Now, with the new policy for sporting and school events, all participants and attendees, including staff, will be scanned with a metal-detecting wand.
All bags will searched, without exception. The only bags permitted will be clear bags. The maximum size is 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches. The only additional bags allowed will be small clutches no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches that fit in a hand. They too will be searched.
Also, no outside food or beverages will be allowed. Medical exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Re-entry to events will be prohibited, and the district reserves the right to deny entry to anyone unwilling to comply with its new policy.
SLPS also works closely with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
“Whatever we can do to keep students and visitors safe has to take top priority,” said Meredith Pierce, SLPS’s director of communications.