JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County scholars are heading back to class Monday, and both parents and students will notice some changes on the first day back to school.
As an increased safety measure, Duval County schools have been equipped with ID readers that will check a visitor's background, put their name into a database and print a visitation badge with the visitor's name and the purpose of their visit.
If the system identifies someone who shouldn't be allowed on campus, school administrators will be notified. Jim Culbert, the school district's chief information officer, said the move allows school and district leaders to know who is on the campus at all times.
"It will also tell them, if they're visiting a student, what student that is and also the location in the building they're supposed to be in," Culbert said.
Inside Duval County schools, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said after 144 hours of firearms, active shooter and diversity training, you'll find 67 of its guardians helping with school safety, along with members of the Duval County School Police Department, including school safety assistants.
There will be fewer early release days in the new school year. They will now be once a month, making that a total of 10 for the year. On those days, students will also be dismissed one hour and 45 minutes earlier than the regular dismissal time. The district said many parents had difficulties finding transportation on those days.
Some changes were made possible by funding through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act. Every student will have access to a mental health therapist. Educators can receive training in youth Mental Health First Aid, and there will be "Wellness Wednesdays," where each class will have a 30 minute session on a mental or emotional wellness topic. Those will be held on early release days for all students.
On a side note, school crossing guards are needed! Click on the tweet below if you're interested in applying.