The Latest: Florida to launch new school safety app

August 15, 2018 GMT
1 of 5
A Broward County Sheriff's Office vehicle is parked outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. Students at the school returned Wednesday, to a more secure campus as they began their first new school year since a gunman killed 17 people in the freshman building. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
1 of 5
A Broward County Sheriff's Office vehicle is parked outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. Students at the school returned Wednesday, to a more secure campus as they began their first new school year since a gunman killed 17 people in the freshman building. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the start of a new school year at a Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 students and faculty (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

Florida will soon launch a new app that will allow people to anonymously report suspicious activity in the state’s schools.

Damien Kelly, the executive director of the state’s newly created Office of Safe Schools, said Wednesday that authorities expect to launch the FortifyFL app within the next two weeks. State legislators this past spring set aside $400,000 to develop the app in the aftermath of a mass shooting where 17 students and faculty were killed.

Kelly told the State Board of Education that the app will be designed to send information to threat assessment teams including the school resource officer assigned to individual schools. But Kelly also added that some tips would go directly to 911, such as if someone saw a student placing a gun in a backpack.

ADVERTISEMENT

___

9:15 a.m.

A Florida schools official says a mass shooting that killed 17 students and faculty still “feels like it happened yesterday.”

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Wednesday that the start of a new school year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland is “a challenging time” for students, teachers and other school employees.

Runcie said the school now has two wellness centers and a team of counselors, social workers and therapy dogs. He said the Feb. 14 massacre “feels like it happened yesterday so there’s a lot of emotion going on.”

Sixteen-year-old junior Anijah Avera said the additional security at the school made her feel more at ease as classes began.

___

8:30 a.m.

A new school year has begun at a Florida high school where a gunman opened fire on campus in February, killing 17 students and faculty.

Memorials to those victims once covered the fences surrounding Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, but they were gone Wednesday morning. Instead, a handful of volunteers with German shepherds greeted students at one entrance while helicopters hovered overhead.

All students wore identification badges around their necks as they walked past a heavy police presence. Once on campus, some students complained in social media posts about the throng of reporters who watched from across the street.

___

6:45 a.m.

As students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School begin their first school year since a gunman opened fire on campus, they’re returning to beefed up security including 18 safety monitors, new classroom locks and upgraded video surveillance.

Visitors will have only one way in to enter, and be screened through a video intercom system.

All classroom doors have new hardware that automatically locks when the doors are pulled shut. Witnesses said teacher Scott Beigel and student Joaquin Oliver were fatally shot after they ushered students inside to safety, in part because the old hardware required relocking from the outside.

Despite $6.5 million spent to enhance security, some students say they’ll never feel safe.