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Marjory Stoneman Douglas students to get 'clear backpacks' as safety measure

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie introduced the new measures in a letter sent to students' families this week.
Image: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers return to school
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, staff and teachers exit the building following their return to school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 28, 2018.Rhona Wise / AFP - Getty Images file

Students who survived the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, will have to get used to new security measures when they return from spring break next week — including clear backpacks and ID badges that must be worn at all times.

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie introduced the new measures in a letter sent to students' families on Wednesday.

In it he said there would be additional security at the school, students would be given clear backpacks "at no cost" and students would be issued a new identification badge that they would be required to wear at all times.

“Over the past several weeks, we have received many inquiries regarding our District’s efforts to fortify the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus and expand safety protocols at the school,” the letter read. “We want to assure you that the safety and security of our students and employees remain our highest priorities.”

The clear bags would be “the only backpacks that will be permitted on campus,” and Runcie said the school district is also considering installing permanent metal detectors and the use of metal-detecting wands.

Kyra Parrow, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, blasted the plan on social media, tweeting that “clear backpacks (are) just the illusion of security.”

Other students lamented the loss of privacy.

“I know having clear backpacks will help with security, but now all my privacy will be gone,” Lizzie McNichol wrote on Twitter. “I wish it didn’t come to this.”

Lauren Hogg, a freshman at the high school and sister of high-profile senior David Hogg, said she “appreciate[d] the attempt” but would prefer gun reform “than a clear backpack.”

Security concerns have grown after the accused gunman's brother, Zachary Cruz, was recently discovered trespassing on the school’s campus — as well as other safety concerns following the killing of 17 students and faculty on Feb. 14, officials said.

“Entry onto the campus by the shooter’s brother, a deputy discovered sleeping while on duty by a student, two incidents of knives confiscated from students on campus, and threatening messages posted on social media emphasize the necessity of even greater vigilance,” said Rep. Ted Deutsch, a Democrat who represents Parkland's district in Congress.

“This continues to be a difficult time for everyone in the Stoneman Douglas community,” Deutsch added. “Those of us in leadership positions must remember our obligations to our community and our responsibility to keep our students safe.”

The superintendent’s letter said the district is including the entire school district in the update to its security measures. Students and staff at all school districts will be expected to wear the new identification badges, lock classroom doors “at all times,” lock outer doors and gates during the day and “conducting emergency preparedness and response training for faculty, staff and students on a regular basis.”