Stoneman Douglas teachers return to school ahead of official start of class on Wednesday

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - Members of the Parkland community showed their support for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teachers who returned to campus Monday in the first step back to normalcy.

Staff and teachers were greeted with signs and a group of therapy dogs Monday morning.

A rainbow was also seen over the memorial outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas for the 17 people who were killed in the mass shooting on Feb. 14. In the evening, family and friends continued to visit the memorial with flowers and stuffed animals in hand.

Teachers will be preparing on Monday and Tuesday ahead of Wednesday, which marks the day classes will resume for students.

“It’s hard for these teachers to come back,” said Irma Parone, who showed her support by holding a “welcome back” sign. “They’ve been through so much.”

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said staff members from other schools across the county have come to Stoneman Douglas to give support and lend a helping hand to returning teachers.

“They’re setting up their rooms. They’re working with their colleagues,” Runcie said. “We’re providing services as needed.”

Judy Kanter among others were also alongside Parone Monday morning. She said the teachers returning is a step forward.

“It’s a big step,” said Kanter. “These teachers are here because nothing will stop us. No one’s gonna pull us down. We got broken, but you know what? We’re mended. We are going to move forward.”

Classes in the freshman building will be relocated to neighboring buildings on campus.

“We’re gonna really help our teachers and the faculty as much as possible so that they can transition how they feel best,” Runcie said. “The key words, I say, are flexibility, accommodation and support.”

Runcie told 7News that 10 students and five staff members have asked for information to transfer out.

“If someone wants to really be assigned to another school in Broward County, we’re gonna make it happen,” he said. “We’re gonna do whatever we can to help our students and our staff transition and come back in a way that’s most comfortable for them to deal with this horrible tragedy.”

Teachers, students and parents returned to the high school on Sunday for a voluntary orientation.

“It’s not like you’re going back just to see your friends,” said student Shane Hoffman. “You’re going back to see people that are traumatized for the rest of their lives.”

Another student said Sunday helped bring people together. “Right now, it’s about being there for each other emotionally and getting each other through this,” she said.

The school is expected to have a half day for students on Wednesday.

“We’re here for our staff,” Runcie said. “We’re going to provide the same type of environment when our students arrive on Wednesday morning.”

One-on-one grief counseling and therapy dogs will continue to be available throughout the week.

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