In a letter addressed to families Wednesday, Runcie outlined updated safety and security measures that would be implemented at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of school shooting in February that killed 17, and schools districtwide. The backpacks will be provided at no cost to the students.
"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 states. "We want to assure you that the safety and security of our students and employees remain our highest priorities."
Aside from the new gear, officials will require staff and students to wear identification badges at all times while on campus once students return from spring break vacation on April 2.
The notice adds that extra security personnel will be stationed on the grounds and that officials are considering the option of using metal-detecting wands and installing walk-through metal detectors at entrances.
In a section announcing further changes to both Stoneman Douglas and other schools in Broward County, Runcie explained that officials would be intensifying routine safety protocols and upgrading surveillance systems. These changes would be in addition to expanding the district's mental health services and developing a security risk assessment tool for schools.
"While we cannot change the heartbreaking and senseless act of violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, by working together, we can change the future. All students deserve safe schools," Runcie concluded. "We are proud of our students' determination to effect positive change in this country — and for the incredible support from the Broward community and across the country."
The new measures, however, have ignited backlash from students on social media.
— Lauren Hogg (@lauren_hoggs) March 21, 2018
— Lex Michael (@lexforchange) March 22, 2018
— Kyra Parrow (@longlivekcx) March 21, 2018
— Kyra Parrow (@longlivekcx) March 22, 2018
— Carly Novell (@car_nove) March 21, 2018
Runcie's new initiatives were released three days before the Washington, DC, March for Our Lives rally scheduled for March 24.
Seventeen people, most of them students, died at Stoneman Douglas after Nikolas Cruz walked onto campus and fired a hail of bullets February 14.