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OCPS begins new school safety pilot program | #schoolsaftey

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Students at one Orange County high school started their day a little different Monday, and that’s because they walked through metal detectors.

Wekiva High School is the first of seven Orange County public schools to start using the new weapons detection system to enhance security.

What You Need To Know

  • Seven Orange County public schools were randomly selected to participate in a school safety pilot program using Opengate metal detectors
  • Wekiva High is the first of the schools to implement the program, starting Dec. 18. It will roll out to the other six schools through March
  • The Opengate metal detectors screen each student and visitors for weapons, contraband and other items banned from schools
  • If banned items are detected, there will be a second screening process or search held.
  • If any of the prohibited items are found, that individual could face school discipline or legal consequences

Officials say the program will be rolled out in phases among seven Orange County public schools that were selected at random. Similar to the metal detectors that you’d see at theme parks and in government buildings or stadiums, each student and visitors at the school will walk through the devices.

Opengate is made to detect weapons specifically, but according to a release from the district, the devices can also pick up on contraband and other items that are prohibited at schools.

Students and visitors need to remove items like laptops or other technology before walking through the metal detectors. OCPS Superintendent Maria Vazquez said in a school board meeting just days ahead of the rollout of the program that safety is and will always be the top priority when it comes to schools.

“We have always looked at how we can make our schools a safer place. The board has had several conversations regarding screening devices. This pilot will allow us to collect data, observe the process, and then make decisions about any future implementation,” Vazquez said.

If the metal detectors pick up on banned items, a secondary screening or search will be done. If a banned item is found, that person could face school discipline or legal consequences.

When they first learned about the metal detector pilot program earlier this month, some people shared concerns about the potential of long lines at the beginning of the school day now that each individual will be screened. However, others said they support the program fully — and any other efforts the district takes to keep their children safe.

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