UVALDE, Texas — Uvalde CISD students returned to school Tuesday after the school year was delayed by more than a month as school officials worked to make security changes and upgrades in the wake of the Robb Elementary school massacre.
The entire summer, families demanded change in gun reform and accountability. That led to the firing of district police chief Pete Arredondo.
Robb Elementary is no more. Instead, students will be split between two other schools as they try to return to some kind of sense of normalcy.
Parents say school district was not ready for first day
Many parents who lost their loved ones at Robb Elementary were upset Tuesday morning claiming the school district wasn't ready for the first day of school.
The school district promised fencing and Flores Middle School still doesn't have that fencing. Contractors are actually working on it right now.
Throughout the summer the district said they worked with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center to conduct a safety and security audit for the district. Among the changes they promised to make this year is to add non-scalable perimeter fencing, new cameras, and a single entrance passageway to the schools.
However, many of the schools didn't have these things on the first day of school. Despite that, many parents decided they were going to send their kids back to school.
Many were very emotional as they dropped off their kids.
“A lot emotional but just leave it to God. Everything will be OK for our kids. I have a lot of faith in God,” Cathy Gonzalez, mother of a sixth-grader said.
DPS State Troopers were at all schools this morning. According to the district, they will be at all schools from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
However, those parents who lost their loved ones are demanding accountability. Some did not want those officers who stood in the Robb Elementary hallway back here patrolling the schools again.
They feel those officers won't be able to protect their kids.
Uvalde students and parents anxious about the first day
The first day of school for many of these Uvalde students will not be easy. Some of them will be going back to class without their best friends and teachers.
"Very anxious and scared," said Nikki Cross who lost Uziyah Garcia.
The last day of school for the students at Robb Elementary ended in gunfire, traumatizing them.
Ashley Morales told The Associated Press she is putting her son, Jeremiah, back in class — because she says she has no other choice as a working single mother. She will drop him off outside Uvalde Elementary on the first day. She says parents won't be allowed inside.
“I'm just nervous, scared," said Morales, whose son was a third-grader last year at Robb Elementary and lost three friends in the shooting. During a recent “Meet the Teacher" night, she felt a rush of anxiety walking down the school hall.
“Oh my gosh, it's actually going to happen," she said. “School is going to start."
More on Uvalde returning to school
Uvalde school safety and security
Throughout the summer, Uvalde CISD worked with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center to conduct a safety and security audit for the district. Among the changes made this year are non-scalable perimeter fencing, new cameras, and a single entrance passageway.
But a look at the district's website shows these changes are far from complete.
In the middle of the Uvalde CISD webpage is a small tab that sends you to the "Back To School" information. Once you click that button and scroll to the middle of the page, you will see the "Safety and Security" section which will show you the progress of each new security measure being made.
The non-climb fencing has only been installed at two campuses, the website shows.
Video camera systems have only been installed at one campus, according to the website.
Communication updates, which include an audit of each school's communication and WiFi, have been completed districtwide.
After the school shooting, some teachers reported they did not get active shooter alerts because of WiFi issues.
Other security measures across the district
- At least 33 DPS State Troopers at campuses
- 3 new school district police officers
- Campus monitors to check doors and gates
School officials said security enhancements will continue throughout the school year, but some parents said this still isn't enough.
"It's not going to make the people feel safe. They can hire 10 cops and 15 cops it's not going to make a difference. People do not feel safe in Uvalde," said Vincent Salazar, the grandfather of Laila Salazar, who was one of the victims that died in the shooting.
Parents had until last week to enroll their kids in person or virtual learning. A tough decision many were grappling with.
It’s unclear how many have signed up to be in person.
Schools show support for Uvalde by wearing maroon and white
To show support for the return of Uvalde students and staff, several Houston-area school districts have posted on social media, asking their students and staff to wear maroon and white.
We've seen messages from Houston ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Tomball ISD, Conroe ISD and more. It's something districts across the state are doing, as well.
Photos: Texans show support for Uvalde by wearing maroon and white
Texas Southern pays tribute to Uvalde students and educators
Texas Southern University’s marching band paid tribute to Uvalde students and educators over the weekend.
During the annual Labor Day Classic, TSU’s Ocean of Soul Marching Band spelled out Uvalde with a heart as they performed Selena’s hit song “Dreaming of You.”
White balloons were also released for the victims during the game.