Sep. 9—Claremore Public Schools administrators have joined other county and state school districts taking preemptive steps to protect fans, families and community members attending football games and other sporting events.
Last week, Catoosa issued an athletic event "security update," telling game attendees they would be checked with a metal detection hand-held wand upon entering the stadium, and that all spectators would need to be seated in the stadium during any event.
In addition to new game day rules, Claremore's announcement asks people to "say something" if they "see something."
"Given recent events in schools across our region and the state of Oklahoma, we want to emphasize the crucial role of safety and security measures at all of our athletic events. Claremore Public School is committed to ensuring the safety of our students, staff, and visitors during game days. Please review the game day safety protocols," the CPS' official update reads.
No local reports or active threats of violence have been shared by school officials or local law enforcement at this time.
The call for stronger safety measures comes in the wake of reports of a shooting last week at a Choctaw vs. Del City game. A 15-year-old suspect was taken into custody after another teenager died from a gunshot wound sustained during the third quarter of the game. At least two other people were reported shot or injured in an attempt to flee the stadium, and a police officer was later suspended.
Oklahoma law already prohibits the possession of a firearm on any public or private school property. The additional steps being taken ensure attendees at football games stay in compliance on all fronts.
"We have expanded some of our protocols and will continue to seek improvements to ensure a safe environment for all our events in the future," Claremore Superintendent Bryan Frazier said. "[Claremore Schools are] working closely with the Claremore Police Department and the Rogers County Sheriff to ensure we have done all we can to create a safe and enjoyable Friday night event."
Verdigris was one of the first county schools to issue updated guidelines in preparation for the first home game against Sperry on Sept. 1.
Catoosa, Claremore and Verdigris have also issued a call for fans to only bring "clear" bags and to understand that there will be no in-and-out or re-entry to games — without administrative permission — and "no entry after halftime."
The new protocols were put in place Friday night when Claremore Zebras hosted county rival Oologah Mustangs and Catoosa hosted Verdigris.
Going forward, fans on both sides need to check school websites and Facebook pages to make sure they understand the rules for attendees.
The new bag policy at Claremore is very specific: No bags permitted unless it is a clear plastic tote bag, clear bags can not be larger than 12-inch by 6-inch by 12-inch; one bag per person; bags necessary for approved medical equipment, approved family care items like diapers, formula, etc., must be included in a clear plastic tote bag; and 1-gallon clear ziplock, non-transparent clutch wallets no larger than 4.5-inch by 6.5-inch are acceptable. Verdigris and Catoosa have adopted similar policies.
Additionally, Claremore has a long list of prohibitions: No firearms, explosives, or weapons of any kind, vapes or lighters, alcohol, bags, backpacks, duffel bags, fanny packs, or hard binocular cases, camera bags (media exceptions with administration approval), balloons (unless part of a school-sponsored event), sports balls/equipment or beach balls, coolers, containers, or ice chests, laser pointers, pets (except for registered service animals) and outside food or drink.
"Please read and be prepared for the new safety measures implemented; your cooperation is critical to the success of our events. Ensuring the safety of our students, staff and community at Claremore Public Schools has always been our top priority," Fraizer said.
Verdigris Public Schools posted its updated football games policies on Facebook prior to their first home game last week: "Prior to arrival for away games, we encourage all patrons to check the websites of facilities they are visiting for updated guidelines and policies."