PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – The amount of flowers at an intersection near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School keeps growing as the administration prepares for students to return next week.
Friday morning, teachers and staff returned to the school, more than a week after the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people at the Parkland High School.
The day was optional but according to the Broward Teachers Union, every faculty member did show up.
“I actually met with one teacher who was a grazed it with a bullet, and you think grazed with a bullet sounds so simple? She has a hole in her arm,” said union President Anna Fusco.
“It was very emotional, very emotional, everybody was hugging and kissing each other, sad, very sad,“ said teacher Evelyn Rosario of the reunion.
“There was hugging. There were tears,” said teacher Jim Gard. “I know I had enough hugs to last me a lifetime.”
The school had a variety of support services on hand including counselors and therapy dogs.
The day started with a breakfast for all and then the teachers and staff were allowed to reconnect and begin the healing process.
“Today is a day where we are really just giving the teachers a day to come back in, to meet with each other, to spend a couple of hours at the school, to receive any services or support that they need. It’s just a day to connect with them, for them to connect with each other, and do what we can to just help in the transition,” said Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
At a late morning news conference Runcie was highly critical of President Donald Trump and others who have suggested that teachers and administrators in schools carry firearms.
“I am totally against arming teachers,” Runcie said. “Spend money into adding more school resource officers and law enforcement personnel out there – asking our teachers to carry guns – to me – that’s an easy way out.”
He said that would be the easy, cost-free way out. He said what is needed is greater funding for more school police officers and hardening of school campuses.
Watch Robert Runcie’s entire news conference here:
Runcie condemned school resource deputy Scott Peterson after it was learned that he crouched behind his car outside the school and failed to confront the shooter last week.
“I’m extremely upset – outraged. It’s inexcusable,” said Runcie.
The Broward County Police Benevolent Association called for all off duty officers to welcome back all teachers and students.
On Sunday afternoon there will be a voluntary orientation, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., for students and family members. Counselors will be made available on site for students and teachers.
Monday and Tuesday staff will return to the school full-time for planning and preparations to resume the school year.
“We will provide extensive counseling and support services to our teachers, show them the love and care they deserve and need at this difficult time,” said Superintendent Runcie.
Students will return on Wednesday and follow a 7:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. modified schedule for the rest of the week.
“It’s a week of transition, a week of folks coming together, reconnecting and going through the healing process,” said Runcie.
“The maintenance and facility staff have been power washing the school, painting, repairing doors and glass and getting the school back in tip top shape,” explained Runcie.
Building 12, where the shooting occurred, is on lockdown. Broward County Public Schools has requested $28.5 million from the Florida Legislature for the replacement and restoration of the site of Building 12. This includes a request of $500,000 for a proposed memorial.
The 550 freshmen students that were housed in Building 12 will be accommodated in other buildings and classrooms on campus.
There will be heightened security at the school as well.