The Halifax County School Board received an update on procedures for checking student IDs and safety measures at the high school football games.
The Comets varsity football team played five home games throughout the fall season. At the first home game and again at the homecoming game, 1,200 fans poured into the football stadium, Halifax County High School Athletic Director Justin Saunders told the trustees.
“It’s fairly large crowds, which is a good thing,” Saunders said. “But it takes a lot of people to manage this, and I want to say thank you to everyone who helped. It takes a lot of people to run the show.”
HCHS Principal Kelvin Davis also acknowledged that providing security at the football games was a team effort from both the high school and middle school administration, ICS Security Services, the South Boston Police Department and the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office. He noted that throughout the five home games, there were no incidents to report, and the students “adapted well” to the school’s new digital ID platform.
Each fan had to walk through a weapons detection unit before entering the football stadium this season. The high school and the middle school both received new weapons detection units this school year, and the unit from the middle school was transported and used to scan crowds at the football games because of its proximity to the stadium.
“The detection system proved to be much easier to manage compared to traditional metal detectors,” Davis reported. “It was less intrusive, resulting in faster lines, and overall easy to handle. ICS Security assisted in managing the system as people entered the stadium.”
A school administrator was stationed in between the weapons detection unit and the ticket booth to check student IDs.
“The students did an outstanding job of having their IDs ready and available when they entered the game,” Davis said. “Most students already had their student ID on their phone. If they did not have an ID on their phone, we could search the Minga app right on the spot to determine their grade level. If they were in the eighth grade or below, they had to wait for a responsible adult to accompany them.”
The Minga app also shows administrators whether or not students are suspended or restricted from attending events such as football games, displaying “no access” at the top of the student’s digital ID.
“In the first game alone, we caught six students who were restricted from the events,” Davis related. “These students had to wait with an administrator outside.”
Board vice chair Roy Keith Lloyd thanked both Davis and Saunders for their work in enhancing security at the football games this season.
“Thank you to both of you for the work that you’ve done to make the special event security what it is,” Lloyd said to Davis and Saunders. “I really do think our division is probably a frontrunner in that field, having secure events for parents and students and community members.”
After going through the security measures, the final step Comets fans have to go through before entering the football stadium is purchasing tickets, using either the cash line or the GoFan pre-purchase line.
“Many fans chose the GoFan option to skip the long lines,” Saunders noted.
Lloyd asked about how long the process takes from the time a person parks their car in the lot until the time they enter the football stadium for a game.
School Superintendent Dr. Amy Huskin replied that waiting in line for tickets if they were paying in cash would be the only significant wait time for the football fans, as going through the weapons detection unit is a quick process.
“You walk right through on the weapons unit; that part is fast,” Huskin explained. “It (the unit) is supposed to see a cell phone or keys or things that you are supposed to have; it’s only going to red flag something that you’re not supposed to have. It’s just like when the kids are coming into school every day; that is super fast. We get all the kids in school way faster than when they had to go through a metal detector when we were randomly checking bags.”
Huskin also noted that one weapon detection unit is designed to scan 3,000 people per hour, so one unit would always be sufficient at the home football games.
Election District 7 Trustee Keith McDowell remarked that he had attended the homecoming football game, and getting into the stadium was a swift process.
“There was a crowd there, but it was quick,” McDowell said.
ED-3 Trustee Melissa Hicks asked if there had been any fights at any of the home football games.
“We’re happy to report there have been zero incidents,” Saunders replied. “That is big-time for us. We consider that a win.”