Marjory Stoneman Douglas will require students to carry only clear backpacks
When students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas return to class after spring break next week, they’ll be required to carry clear backpacks.
The move is meant to ramp up security measures after last month’s deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, and a series of breaches since.
“Clear backpacks are the only backpacks that will be permitted on campus,” said Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie said in a letter sent to parents.
The district will provide the bags for free, he said.
In addition to the new backpack policy, students and school staff will be required to wear IDs at all times while on campus.
The school district is weighing whether to use metal-detecting wands at Stoneman Douglas entrances, and could move to install permanent metal detectors in the future.
Since the shooting that killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day, the high school has had a series of security incidents.
On Wednesday, nearly 20% of the student population stayed away from school after two of their peers were charged with bringing weapons on campus and another made a threat on social media.
Earlier in the week, a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy was suspended after he was discovered sleeping in his patrol unit on the Stoneman Douglas campus, the sheriff’s office said.
Also Monday, 18-year-old Zachary Cruz — the adopted brother of the gunman Nikolas Cruz — was arrested after he was found skateboarding on the campus. Cruz told police he wanted to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in.” He faces a misdemeanor trespassing charge.
Some students have said they’re not happy with the changes.
Tyra Hemans, 19, a senior, told CNN she supports parts of the new policy, such as the ID requirement. But she believes other security measures, such as forcing students to carry clear backpacks, don’t adequately address the real problem with school safety, which she says is lax gun laws.
“I’m not happy with it. Why are you punishing me for one person’s actions?” she said.
“We know what the root of the problem is,” she said. “(Lawmakers) don’t want to make the gun laws strong enough.”
Hemans believes a clear backpack violates students’ privacy, and using metal detectors will turn the school into a prison, she said. “I want to go to school, not prison.”
Nicholas Fraser, 16, and his 14-year-old sister Camila lost several friends in last month’s shooting. They echoed Hemans’ displeasure with the new policy.
“I feel like our school is now a prison,” Nicholas said. “It doesn’t feel like home.”
Their mother, Claudia, said her family wants “school and life to return to normal.”
Another letter to the district’s families detailed community-wide security measures to be implemented in the coming months. Those efforts include limiting visitors to a single entry point, providing a minimum of one school resource officer at every campus, and conducting risk assessments for all district schools by the beginning of the next school year.