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Douglas students to carry only clear backpacks, and metal detectors may soon arrive, district says

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PARKLAND, Fla. – When Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students return from spring break the first week of April, they will only be allowed to use a clear backpack that will be provided to them, the Miami Herald reports.

Students will also be required to wear identification badges at all times and could soon see metal detectors installed in the Parkland school, the site of a mass shooting last month that killed 17 students and educators.

The Broward school district’s announcement Wednesday of heightened safety measures comes the same week Zachary Cruz, the brother of confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, was arrested for trespassing on campus and two students were arrested for carrying knives to school.

RELATED | Nikolas Cruz's Brother Arrested For Skateboarding Through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

“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,” Superintendent Robert Runcie said in a letter sent to Douglas families. “We want to assure you that the safety and security of our students and employees remain our highest priorities.’’

The two-page letter begins with Douglas-specific changes. Florida Senate Bill 7026 allocated $400 million for schools statewide to bolster their mental health and school safety programs. The bill, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this month, also establishes a program to let some school personnel carry concealed weapons on campus.

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The bill was signed in response to the Valentine’s Day rampage that left 14 students and three faculty members dead. Nikolas Cruz entered the school’s freshman classroom building and opened fire with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against the 19-year-old.

In addition to the backpacks — which Runcie says in the letter will be given to the students at no cost on April 2, the day they return from spring break — and the identification badges, “the district is exploring options for consolidating points of entry for students and staff to include utilizing metal-detecting wands and potentially installing permanent metal detectors.”

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