No Unaccompanied Minors at Games

The new policy for attending FCPS sporting events will be implemented at Dunbar for the first time on Sept. 12.

An unexpected incident took place during the fourth quarter of the Bryan Station v. Frederick Douglass football game on Aug. 23. Apparently, “unaccompanied minor students” inaccurately claimed that someone at the stadium had a gun.

This false claim caused a panic, so Superintendent Manny Caulk was quick to provide a response.

Taking effect on Sept. 6, the following changes were made in order to “ enhance safety during athletic events.”

  • Games between two FCPS schools will begin at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.
  • Elementary and middle school students must be accompanied by a parent or adult
  • Backpacks and large bags are no longer permitted
  • Outside food and drink is no longer allowed

According to the FCPS Website, the county implemented changes “in an effort to provide a safe and fun experience for everyone in attendance at our games.”

The statement indicates that the changes were made to help students, faculty and parents feel more comfortable, however, not all agree the new policy is necessary.

“I don’t feel this new policy makes me feel safer at sporting events. I feel safe enough knowing police officers and staff are there,” senior Ben Oser said. 

Some students stated that they don’t want to go through the extra steps to attend athletic events. On the other hand, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Athletic Director, Mr. Jason Howell, said he did not foresee any student decrease in attendance.

And it’s not just Dunbar.

Lafayette senior Lauren Haughey said, “I understand the no backpack and large bag rule, but if someone has a purse there are enough officers to look through bags at entry.”

Haughey emphasized that there are scenarios where a student may need to bring a bag.

One proposed solution is using clear bags, however, “even with clear bags, inappropriate or banned items can be concealed,” Mr. Howell said.

In the letter sent to parents and guardians, Superintendent Caulk said “Athletic events are an important part of building school spirit and culture. [FCPS staff] value these experiences and traditions not only for our students but also our broader school communities.”

He said he hopes that stricter requirements and policies for sporting events will help all attendees and athletes have a better and safer experience.