ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Following the massacre of 17 people in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, a resource officer can be found on every public school campus in Florida, along with other security measures such as more locked doors and photo ID clearance. Now, though, Central Florida schools are reinforcing security measures in reaction to the deadly shooting of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The mass shooting on Tuesday prompted requests from multiple Central Florida school districts for a heightened law enforcement presence on campus during their last days of the 2021-22 school year.
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The Leesburg Police Department said Tuesday it would make additional resource officers available throughout the final week of class for students in Lake County schools, who go on summer break after classes end Friday. The district said on Twitter that it had requested the help from its law enforcement partners.
In Orange County, where Wednesday marks the last day of school before summer break, the district said in a statement that officials will spend time during the break to reinforce safety procedures, as well as to train its employees on how to react when faced “with any threat to their campus and work location.”
Wednesday is also the last day before the break in Seminole County, where the district described the shooting in Uvalde as a horrific event that no family should ever have to be faced with.
“Our schools should always be a safe place for learning for our children and educators,” Seminole County Public Schools said in recorded message to parents. “...While today is both an early release day and the conclusion of our school year, please know that our area law enforcement partners along with our dedicated school resource officers and deputies will be on increased alert and extra vigilant to ensure our students have a safe and smooth transition into their summer break.”
The Osceola County School District said in a statement on Facebook that its schools would have additional safety precautions and law enforcement presence on Wednesday, sharing information about where students can go to find mental health resources.
The last day before summer break for Osceola County students is Thursday. All Central Florida school districts — except for Volusia, which has its last day on June 3 — will wrap up by Friday.
These changes and more came hours after the deadly shooting in Uvalde, the tragedy bringing back memories of the Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland.
Manuel Oliver, whose son was killed in the 2018 shooting, said he is once again overcome with emotion.
“To any family that has lost a kid today. I know the pain,” Oliver said. “...I just don’t understand how come a whole society doesn’t wake up after this news.”
Cameron Kasky, who survived the Parkland school shooting, said people can’t keep up with the number of shootings happening in the U.S. any longer.
“You can’t keep up anymore,” Kasky said, “...what I’ve seen in Parkland and these other horrible shootings, it changes people forever.”
Ryan Engelhardt, whose child just finished the second grade at Wekiva Elementary School, said campus shootings are always at the front of his mind.
“It’s always a big concern whenever you hear about things like that, tragedies like that that happen,” he said. “We’re just putting our faith in the district and the county that they’re doing what they can to prevent things like that.”
Engelhardt said he notices when security measures are in place.
“I know whenever I go in here to pick up my son from school, they’re always IDing me. Always going through a checklist of ‘Are you who you are?’ Is it enough, though? I don’t know. The verdict is still out on that one,” he said.