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Event-goers will now have to adhere to a new, strict policy when attending large Orangeburg County School District events.

During Tuesday’s district board meeting, trustees announced the implementation of a clear bag policy. It will take effect at the beginning of the upcoming school year.

District Coordinator of Athletics Charles Gregory said, “It just makes it clearer for security to see what’s inside the bag. It makes it easier so they can get one person in the game and then obviously get the next person in the game without having to rumble through a bag that’s not clear,” Gregory stated.

“You don’t have to have one, but if you have items on your person that need to be in a bag, they would have to be in a clear bag,” Gregory noted.

Gregory presented trustees with the reasoning behind the new policy.

“I’m fortunate to be a member of a district athletic director group around the state. I’m also fortunate enough to attend the student services round table. In both of those venues, we talked about security at schools, as well as athletic events. Clear bag is obviously one of the hot topics,” he stated.

“If you’ve been to a professional athletic event, you know that they always implement clear bag. Major universities started implementing it last year. A couple of our school districts that attend the same meeting that I go to started implanting clear bag last year,” Gregory said.

“So, we’ve monitored what they did and of course we felt like this was the right time to implement clear bag in our district,” he said.

Gregory said the clear bags will assist security with the searching of bags, and also help manage long lines and crowd flow.

The policy will be in effect at events that may attract large crowds.

“It’s for athletic events and major events, i.e. graduation or anytime we are anticipating a major event, the clear bag policy will be in effect. Also note that we’re going to have some wands and metal detectors that we’ll send to different locations without notice,” interim Superintendent Dr. Darrell Johnson said.

“This is non-negotiable,” Johnson added.

The policy also has procedures in place for people who may not have a clear bag at such events.

“We’ll also have clear Ziploc storage bags that you can use as well,” Gregory stated.

Citizens will have the opportunity to own a bag with their school’s logo featured in the design of the 12x6x12 bag. Gregory displayed a clear bag with the Orangeburg-Wilkinson Bruin logo in the center and noted that the logo will feature the school’s mascot.

Gregory stated that schools will be assisted with the purchase of clear bags. The bags with individualized school logos will be available for purchase through the schools.

Also during the meeting:

• Johnson reported that mid-year graduation will take place on Aug. 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the Technology Center.

• District Chief of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Lana Williams reported that the new computer science standards will go into effect this school year. Williams reported that all teachers who will be teaching the courses for high school credit have gone to training. Williams noted that credit will no longer be given to keyboarding and IBA classes.

• District Director of Secondary Schools Kelvin Lemon reported that under the recently passed SC Wins legislation that dual enrollment courses are now tuition free. Lemon noted that from fall 2018 to spring 2019, 608 students in the county participated in dual enrollment classes at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and earned a total of 6,581 credits. Lemon stated that plans are being made to have two bus routes from the eastern and western ends of the county to transport students to the classes, with hopes to increase enrollment.

• Board members received two agenda items as information and will take action on those items at the next scheduled board meeting. The first item is the district’s uniform grading policy which provides a governing process to track student progress throughout the district. The second item is the student policy which outlines specific rules and procedures.

• District Director of Maintenance and Facilities David Hess gave an update of several maintenance projects.

Hess reported that maintenance workers have been cutting the grass at all of the district’s facilities, workers are actively cleaning schools, moisture issues in classrooms are being addressed and that HVAC problems are being addressed.

Hess also reported that the district lawn care crew is actively addressing athletic fields and that the district will be contracting out the aeration, top dressing, fertilization and pest control services for the fields.

Hess also reported that a water pipe busted at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and caused some water issues in a couple of classrooms.

Hess said that Servpro assisted the custodial crew in clean up. Maintenance workers are monitoring tile floor for peeling.

The roof at Holly-Hill Roberts Elementary is nearly complete, and work was completed on a leak in Edisto High School’s irrigation system, according to Hess.

Hess also noted that the Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School press box repairs will start after football season and that a paving project at O-W High is complete.

• Board members unanimously approved a resolution approving the district’s participation as a Community Eligibility Provisions program district. The resolution will allow students to benefit from the free breakfast and lunch program. The provision allows districts with high rates of students who require a free and reduced meal to provide breakfast and lunch to all enrolled students in the district at no charge.

• Board members unanimously approved a resolution to enter the Local Government Investment Pool. The $7.4 billion investment pool currently includes 65 school districts, 55 special purpose districts and is comprised of 34 counties.

“This is a way we can maximize our return on investments,” District Chief of Finance Michael Thom said.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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