During the late spring and early summer of 2018, East Columbus High School officials, in conjunction with local law enforcement, looked at ways to continue to improve school safety measures and maintain a drug free environment. Various ideas were discussed and researched to determine effective means of improving school safety. After several discussions, it was decided that the best and easiest method to improve school safety was to implement a clear book bag policy for those students who use a book bag to carry books and gym clothes. Administration then shared the idea with central office staff, who in turn sought and acquired Columbus County Board of Education approval. East Columbus was the first school to attempt this safety measure, thus becoming a pilot school for the district.
Once this safety measure was approved, a start date of October 1st was established and administration began the process to find a vendor to supply clear and mesh book bags at an affordable price for students to purchase. Then hurricane Florence made landfall and it was determined to delay implementation until November 5th. A vendor was found and bags have now been available for purchase for the low cost of $10 in the front office for over two weeks. East Columbus administration and staff have reminded parents, students, and community members via multiple means of the implementation date. This date is firm and students who use book bags are expected to use a clear or mesh bag beginning Monday, November 5th.
While East Columbus is the first school to implement such a policy in Columbus County, we follow the lead of multiple schools and districts across the state and country. Multiple sporting and concert venues prohibit the use of bags that are not clear. Our neighbors to the west, Robeson County Schools, require students to use mesh or clear bags to carry books and supplies. Horry County Schools recently implemented a clear bag policy for ALL after school events and activities, including athletic events. After the tragic school shooting in Florida, Marjorie Stoneman High School implemented the same school safety policy that is being piloted at East Columbus.
While no measure is completely foolproof, implementing a clear and mesh bag policy adds another layer of safety measures that have a minimal impact on students. Most contraband items that are found on campus are found in bags. It is the hope of school staff that implementation of clear bags is another successful measure in the continuous model of school safety.
The policy is as follows:
Beginning November 5th, students who use a bag to carry books or gym clothes must use a clear or mesh book bag. Students may use a small pencil pouch in their bag to carry private and personal items. Purses and athletic equipment bags, such as bat bags, are still permitted and are subject to the same search procedures that currently in place.
Book bags are currently available for purchase for $10 in the main office. Students who do not have a clear or mesh bag will be provided a bag next week and $10 will be added to their fee list. If there are financial concerns, please see an administrator.
This safety measure is required of all students who use a book bag or gym bag and there are no exceptions. If you or your student have any questions, please see an administrator.
East Columbus High School appreciates the community’s support in implementing this new school safety measure.
Jeremiah Johnson, Principal
East Columbus High School
32 Gator Lane
Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450