PARKLAND, Fla. — New security measures, including mandatory ID badges and use of clear backpacks, additional law enforcement, and limited entry points, were implemented on Monday at the high school that was the site of a deadly shooting in February.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are now required to use the transparent backpacks, and students and staff members are required to wear identification badges while on campus, according to a letter from Robert Runcie, the school superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, to students' families. The high school is serving as a pilot for security changes that are being considered districtwide.
The school gave the students the free backpacks, donated by Walmart and the Broward Education Foundation, when they returned from spring break on Monday, the Sun Sentinel reports. Responding to a student who asked the superintendent to reconsider the mandatory backpacks, Runcie said that the district will “continue to re-evaluate and make changes based on experience and feedback from you and other students.”
Another security measure that was implemented as part of the pilot at Marjory Stoneman was the presence of additional law enforcement officers stationed at every entrance. The district is also looking into using metal-detecting wands and possibly installing permanent metal detectors, Runcie added in the letter.
Districtwide, safety procedures for routine school operations are being reinforced. That includes students and staff being required to wear the ID badges on campus, classroom doors being locked at all times, exterior doors and gates being locked and secured throughout the day, and regularly conducting emergency preparedness and response training for students and staff. Broward County Schools is also working with law enforcement to review the procedures and frequency of its code red training.
Additionally, the district has expedited the completion of “single point of entry” measures for visitors, using fencing and door systems to limit access to one entrance. The work is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2019. The district is also working on upgrading real-time surveillance camera systems at all of its schools, with an expected completion date of June 2018, Runcie noted in the letter.
Some students compared their school, with the changes, to an airport or a prison, according to the Sun Sentinel.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on March 9, allots $98 million for increasing school building security in the state, as well as over $25 million for replacing a building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and over $69 million for mental health assistance in schools.
The bill was prompted by the Feb. 14 shooting at the school, which killed 17 students and school staff members. Broward County Public Schools drivers transported students and staff away from the scene to a meeting place to reunite with family and friends. In the weeks following the shooting, the transportation department provided transportation for students, parents, staff, and the community to resources and services to aid in the recovery process.
The transportation department is working with district leaders to develop a plan that includes short- and long-term solutions that will impact student transportation emergency and crisis operations and safety measures, said Nadine Drew, a spokeswoman for the district, in a recent interview with School Bus Fleet.