PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Students at four Palm Beach County public schools will walk through metal detectors on their first day of class on Thursday.
Seminole Ridge Community High School, Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, John I. Leonard High School, and Palm Beach Gardens Community High School are participating in a pilot program to determine whether this is a layer of security the School District of Palm Beach County wants to implement on a larger scale.
Palm Beach County is the first school district in our area to use walk-through metal detectors on school campuses.
The four high schools began testing the devices over the summer.
Chief Sarah Mooney of the School District of Palm Beach County's Police Department said nothing suspicious was found. But Thursday is the start of the true test as the district moves thousands of students through the machines on each campus.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
Every half second, a student can walk through the metal detectors.
WPTV captured them in action over the summer at Seminole Ridge Community High School in Loxahatchee. The principals at all four schools volunteered to be part of the testing phase.
WATCH: Metal detectors arrive at 4 Palm Beach County high schools
"If there were a magic wand, we would have done it 20 years ago," said Robert Hatcher, the principal of Seminole Ridge High School. "This is just another step and another evolution in making schools safer."
Throughout the summer, the schools learned what items will set off the machines, like laptops. They'll have students remove them from their backpacks before they walk through.
Mooney said they've received good feedback from the testing so far.
"We're hopeful it's going to go without delays," Mooney told WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind. "But it's going to be something new to a lot of students. So inevitably, there will probably be slight delays when we start. But I think we'll work through them."
If something does set off the machine, the student will bring their backpack to a private area to search for what may have set it off, and police will get involved if necessary.
SCHOOL SECURITY COVERAGE:
- Palm Beach County deputies to continue patrolling schools under $3.5 million contract
- Why are some Palm Beach County schools not locked down for weapons on campus?
- Panic alarm button is 'powerful tool,' Palm Beach County school police chief says
- How can parents, students cope with new normal of school threats and lockdowns?
- Some Code Red lockdowns could've been handled differently, Palm Beach County schools police chief says
- School District of Palm Beach County considers allowing select school employees to carry guns
- Palm Beach County public school classroom doors must be locked, under new policy
"If the pilot goes well, I'm going to share those findings with the school board. And if they are comfortable, at that point, we would start implementing across all high schools," Superintendent Mike Burke told Susskind. "That would probably take most of the school year to work our way through the district."
The superintendent added that if they decided to implement the metal detectors across all district high schools, they would then move to outfitting middle schools with the devices.