Broward County students returning to school next month from summer break will see significant security upgrades following February’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that claimed 17 lives.
Updated safety features will include new fences, double-doors, cameras and security staff, reports The Sun Sentinel. Once all new cameras are installed, there will be a total of 10,000 security cameras district wide.
At 135 of the district’s 230 schools, there will only be one way in during the school day. Several doors will be open for arrival and dismissal, but signs and fences will steer visitors to welcome centers during the day where they will be required to show an ID to enter and also wear a visitor badge.
Students, faculty and visitors can expect the new procedures to cause delays and disruptions, warned Superintendent Robert Runcie.
“There is no way we’re going to implement security measures the community expects from us and not inconvenience visitors,” Runcie said. “It’s going to be the new normal and folks are going to have to adjust to it. Don’t expect perfection on the first day.”
Students can expect more “Code Red” drills next year to help prepare them for an emergency. They will also be required to wear ID badges.
Additionally, the district is spending $26 million to create single points of entries at all of its schools, which is expected to be completed by early 2019. The effort began two years ago but was expedited following the Stoneman Douglas shooting.
On Wednesday, Runcie showed media the first completed single-point system at Miramar High School. The school now has new gates, a full-time security monitor at the entrance and cameras that staff are able to monitor from their mobile devices.
“I’ll be able to see students really clearly with this upgraded system,” said Principal Maria Formoso, who also had a real-time video screen installed in her office.
The doors will be locked ten minutes after the start of the school day but will remain unlocked from the inside so students are able to get out in the event of an emergency.
Mental Health Services, Metal Detectors Part of Security Upgrades
“We’re in the process of hiring additional counselors, social workers, behavioral specialists, all of those resources that are critical to meet needs of students and deal with their challenges,” Runcie said.
The district also hired a retired Secret Service agent to review the roles administrators and security staff played on the day of the shooting, many of whose reactions have been widely criticized.
“We’re looking at the entire school so we can get some lessons learned and look at what we need to change at that school and any other school,” Runcie said.
Stoneman Douglas will also be the first school in the district to install metal detectors. District officials haven’t provided specifics on how these metal detectors would work, like whether students will walk through them or be scanned with portable wands or how it will get students through without creating long lines.
The district is still in the process of purchasing and installing the detectors and hopes it will be completed by the beginning of the year.
“This is something new for us,” Runcie said. “So again, it’s a pilot. We’re gonna learn from it. We’ll be tweaking it as we go along. The goal is whatever we find and do that’s effective at one school, we want to make sure we make it available at all schools.”
The first day back for Broward County schools is Aug. 15.
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