Clear bag policy in effect at Boggus Stadium

HARLINGEN — What’s in that bag?

It could be anything. And now as random acts of violence spread across the country, people are increasingly nervous about backpacks, purses and other items.

Unless it’s clear.

That’s why the Harlingen school district has implemented new guidelines for varsity football games at Boggus Stadium.

“At the Boggus varsity football games, we have thousands of people there,” said Shane Strubhart, spokesperson for the district.

“Just for safety reasons, we’re following what many other districts are doing, and even what they’re doing at the university level,” Strubhart said. “No backpacks, no purses, just a clear plastic bag, like an H-E-B bag with the two handles.”

This applies only for varsity football games when maybe 10,000 people may fill the stands, he said. People can still bring mesh backpacks or purses to other events such as soccer games and subvarsity sports.

At varsity football games, some smaller items like coin purses are permitted. This may seem more than a little baffling to people. After all, what’s the problem with a backpack or a purse?

Well, it’s not the backpack itself that’s the problem; it’s what people can carry inside it.

Most of the time, people with backpacks or purses are carrying nothing more harmful than lipstick and notepads. But that one time someone slips through with something fatal can result in destroyed lives for many.

Such has been the cause for many surrounding school districts to establish clear bag policies, and now Harlingen is following suit, said Alicia Noyola, chief academic officer for the district.

“For the last year or so, we have had a safety committee that’s been working on how do we ensure the safety of our students and staff,” Noyola said. “This committee has developed a number of initiatives that we feel are in line with that goal.”

She said in consideration of this, the committee recognized Boggus Stadium, in essence, is the district’s biggest classroom. As such, a large number of people use that classroom — students, staff and other members of the community.

“That really led us to identify these clear bag guidelines,” Noyola said. “This clear bag guideline is also keeping in line with what we already have in our schools. Our students are expected to bring clear or meshed bags. And so we just extended that into our Boggus Stadium piece as well.”

Strubhart said booster clubs at Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South are developing clear plastic bags to sell at the entrances to Boggus. They may be branded with the Cardinal or the Hawk mascots.

“People that show up can buy one of those and put their items in the clear bags,” he said. “It looks like a tote bag but it’s clear.”

Media will be allowed to bring their camera bags and other equipment, but those bags will be searched.

What you should know

• Fans will not be allowed to enter Boggus Stadium with a non-conforming bag.

• Small clutch purses no larger than the palm of an adult hand are permitted.

• Everything you would put into a diaper bag must now be carried in a clear bag.

• The clear bag is easily and quickly searched and greatly reduces faulty bag searches.

• Phones, cameras and binoculars may be carried in by hand. Cases for these items are not allowed.

• HCISD-branded clear bags can be purchased from individual school booster clubs.