HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The new school year is just around the corner in Horry County, and when some students head back to the classroom they will have to adhere to a new policy that allows only clear book bags.

Among the schools enforcing the policy this fall is the cluster of schools that includes Myrtle Beach elementary, early childhood, middle and high schools. Clear bags will also be required at Pee Dee Elementary School in Conway but not at any other middle or high school in the county.

There is no district-wide policy requiring the use of only clear book bags, but they are strongly recommended, said Lisa Bourcier, director of strategic communications and community engagement for Horry County Schools. Instead, it’s up to individual school principals.

“It’s nothing new to people, but it could potentially be new to a certain school this year,” she said.

Bourcier said the protocol is one component of the district’s comprehensive safety and security model that will assist with mandatory bag searches at the middle- and high-school levels.

“It’s also helpful for the parents and students to know exactly what’s in the bag when they come to school, because sometimes there are items, and not necessarily a weapon, but something not appropriate to bring to school — certain toys and certain things. So, it’s a good reminder before they head out to get a quick little check of the book bag before they start their school day.”

Bourcier said many in the district are familiar with the clear bag policy at sporting events, which has been enforced for several years.

“There are protocols put into place when it comes to safety and security,” she said. “You learn from events and you have to update your policies on a yearly basis.”

Clear bags will be provided to students at no cost if a family does not have the means to buy them.

“If it’s successful and principals hear of schools of it being successful, then yeah it could actually continue and build upon over the next several years,” Bourcier said.

Horry County Schools has taken many other steps to keep students safe in recent years. The Board of Education allocated $15.1 million in the 2021-24 facilities plan to address security measures and upgrades across the district.