Polk County middle, high schoolers to be randomly checked for weapons

Middle and high school students in Polk County are heading back to the classroom next week and will have to go through a new security check. 

Students are going to randomly be checked for weapons starting Wednesday, according to an announcement made by Polk School Superintendent Frederick Heid on Thursday. Elementary students are exempt from the random checks. 

Administrators, such as principals and assistant principals who have gone through special training, will be checking for weapons. 

"Our intent is to ensure that students see this and recognize this as a safety precaution, not as a punitive measure," Heid said. 

MORE: Pinellas schools install ALERT system to decrease police response time in an emergency

He said if a student is wanded, notification will go home that night so their parent or guardians know. 

"All of our schools have multiple entrances, especially our secondary schools, and so the [security checks] may be mobile throughout the day, or at the start and end of the day," said Heid. 

Each school will decide the particulars of how to carry out the checks. Heid said staffers may decide to check every 10th student or possibly every 15th. 

READ: Hillsborough teachers, staff trained in mental health awareness ahead of new school year

Polk school officials said last year, there were 44 weapons confiscated from students who intended to use them to do harm. Six of them were guns. 

The superintendent also announced that he is bringing back so-called truant officers who will be working to lower the absentee rate. Last year, he said, 51,000 students missed 10 or more days of school, not including the time they may have been absent due to COVID-19.