Metal detectors, clear backpacks among safety changes at Prince George’s County schools

Metal detectors will be installed at all Prince George's County high schools and some middle schools by the start of the new academic year in an attempt to reduce the number of weapons being brought onto campuses.

The new safety measures were announced at a meeting Tuesday by the county's new superintendent, Millard House II.

House said that In addition to the metal detectors, all high school and middle school students will be required to use clear backpacks when they return to school in August.

"Part of my induction into this community is really understanding where the hotspots are, listening, and looking at the data and understanding where the opportunities are to support some potential changes," House said at his first news conference last month. 

The number of weapons being brought onto school campuses across the nation has increased since the return to the classroom following COVID-19 shutdowns.

Earlier this week, a student attending in-person summer school classes at Central High School was accused of carrying a loaded weapon into the building. In May, a 15-year-old student was attacked on a school bus by several suspects who pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger – only to have the weapon jam.

House said the new safety measure will be accompanied by mental health support for students feeling bullied or feel they need a weapon to protect themselves.

Community members say they support the new measures.

"I think it’s a good idea, I really think so. When I went to school from 1999 to 2004 it was rough then but it wasn’t rough like now so I think it’s a good idea," one Prince George’s County resident told FOX 5. 

"It’s to keep the kids safe. I agree with it. I don’t see [anything] wrong with it," said another.

Right now, the new screening is described as a "pilot program" but the metal detectors are expected to be in place by the start of the school year next month.  

House says he’s implemented similar safety measures at his previously leading school districts in Texas and North Carolina.