Students from at least two metro school districts attending football games this weekend must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, according to policies suburban school administrators announced one week after two people were shot during a homecoming contest at Richfield High.
Richfield students attending away games, including Friday's contest at Minneapolis Washburn High, have to register online and show their photo IDs at the gates, Richfield High Principal Stacy Theien-Collins and Activities Director Chris Peterson wrote in a note to families. Players' families can also attend the game.
In Bloomington, Saturday's football game between Kennedy and Minneapolis Southwest High will see similar restrictions.
"That's not unusual, to prove that they're a student at that school," Bloomington Public Schools spokesman Rick Kaufman said of the ID requirement, in an interview.
But what's different this year, he said, is more stringent security measures prompted by the number of altercations that have broken out during metro-area athletic contests since classes began in early September.
Last week's shooting in Richfield left two people wounded — a 21-year-old and an 18-year old.
One week before that, police officers from four departments responded to a fight during a football game at Edina High that resulted in three arrests. The following week, district officials began requiring parent chaperones for elementary and middle school students.
"We have found that this necessary supervision diverts staff focus from overall stadium safety and security, and a change was needed," Concord Elementary Principal Paul Domer wrote in a note to families.
In Bloomington, district officials over the past couple of years began requiring parent chaperones for middle schoolers attending high school sporting events. That's because younger teenagers and pre-teens who were left unsupervised began causing trouble, Kaufman said.
"We've seen an increase in students that are really not there for the game. It's creating issues and it's not a place for those activities," Kaufman said.
For the game at Washburn High, Minneapolis Public Schools will have Richfield students and their parents enter through a dedicated visitors' gate, Minneapolis district spokesperson Nandi Solorzano O'Brien said in an email. But Minneapolis school officials are not implementing any additional attendance policies.
The Bloomington district will re-evaluate its students-only attendance policy after this weekend's contest at Kennedy High. Kaufman said the district is being "a little more stringent" in the wake of last week's shooting, noting that school officials are aware of the role football games play in bringing together not just students and their families, but alumni and community members at large.
"These athletic events are really community events," Kaufman said. "We have to balance that with the fact that we need security in place."