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Students and teachers brace for emotional return to Florida school

Teachers and staff at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are to return full-time Monday and Tuesday to prepare their classrooms for students’ return on Wednesday, days after a deadly shooting on campus that killed 17 people.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2018 10:26 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Washington
Florida school shooting,US school shooting,US gun violence
People look at flowers and mementos, the day students and parents attend a voluntary campus orientation at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for the coming Wednesday's reopening, following last week's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, US.(Reuters)

Students and teachers preparing Sunday to return to the Florida school that was the scene of a gruesome mass shooting called the prospect “daunting” and “scary” as they urged politicians to act swiftly to address gun violence.

“Imagine being in a plane crash -- and having to get on the plane every day and go somewhere else,” David Hogg, a survivor of the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, told ABC’s “This Week.”

“I can’t imagine, emotionally, what me and my fellow students (will) go through that day.”

Some students and teachers will be back at the school on Sunday for what is being called “orientation.” Teachers and staff are to return full-time Monday and Tuesday to prepare their classrooms for students’ return on Wednesday.

Seventeen people died in the attack. Authorities have charged a 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz, in the assault.

One teacher who has already been back told NPR radio that the shock of returning to a classroom left exactly as it had been during the attack -- notebooks still on desks, the calendar still set to February 14 -- made her so physically ill she had to leave.

Amid ardent demands by students like Hogg for action on tighter gun control, President Donald Trump has said he is open to raising the minimum wage for gun purchases and to banning so-called bump stocks, which can effectively convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic firearms.

‘Red flag’ law

Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday laid out a plan to station a police officer at every public school, to raise the legal age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, and to pass a “red flag” law making it easier for authorities to remove guns from the mentally ill or people with violent histories.

The age change and “red flag” law are staunchly opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbying group.

Scott noted on the “Fox News Sunday” program that he is an NRA member in good standing, and that “there will be some that disagree. But ... I want my state to be safe.”

Trump has also proposed arming some teachers, a step many teachers strongly oppose.

Delaney Tarr, another survivor of the Florida shooting, said Sunday on Fox that she was girding herself to return to school.

“It’s daunting... (and) scary because I don’t know if I’m going to be safe there,” she said.

“But I know that I have to.”

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 10:10 IST