Broward County

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

Students rally at Florida’s Capitol to demand action on gun control, mental health

A week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed 17 people, survivors and hundreds of others descended on Florida's Capitol on Feb. 21, 2018, to demand action on gun control and mental health issues.
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A week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed 17 people, survivors and hundreds of others descended on Florida's Capitol on Feb. 21, 2018, to demand action on gun control and mental health issues.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement.

“There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school,” Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Wednesday following a School Board meeting. “There’s going to be a significantly enhanced security presence” provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Runcie added.

The first day of classes will be a half-day for students on Feb. 27, followed by a full day on Feb. 28. The district has also announced a “voluntary campus orientation” with a variety of support services available for students and their families on Sunday, Feb. 25 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Teachers and staff are returning to the school for the first time this Friday.

The school district previously announced that Building 12, where the shooting took place, will be demolished and replaced by a memorial. Florida legislators have promised to provide resources to help the school district tear down the building and build new classrooms. The freshman building served approximately 900 of the school’s 3,300 students.

For the time being, school administrators have reorganized class schedules to accommodate those students in other school buildings, Runcie said. “It’s going to be tight but they’ve come up with some good creative ways to keep all of the students together and all of the faculty together, which is the goal,” he said.

As students at Stoneman Douglas High finish what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult school year, Runcie said the key words will be “flexibility and accommodation.” The school district plans to work with state officials to deal with logistical challenges like make-up school days and standardized testing.

“We’re going to work with the school community to see what’s their desire in terms of how they want to treat the rest of the school year, and we’ll work with the state to make it happen,” Runcie said.

If there are students who don’t want to return to Stoneman Douglas High, the district will help them transfer to another public school, Runcie said. Despite the trauma they have experienced, the superintendent said the students with whom he has spoken have been “adamant” about going back to the high school.

Teachers have also said they are anxious to return to the school, Runcie said. At a Stoneman Douglas High staff meeting held last week at a Parkland municipal building, teachers said they wanted to get back into the classroom as soon as possible so they could be reunited with their students and colleagues, Runcie said.

“We even had teachers ask if they could actually go and serve in some other schools just to be around kids,” he added.

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