UVALDE, Texas – School starts Tuesday in Uvalde, and it’s the first time students are returning to class after the May 24 shooting that left 21 people dead.
The district has been working on implementing safety and security changes. While headway has been made the changes won’t be ready in time.
”You want me to go to your schools, right?” UCISD student Caitlyne Gonzalez asked on Aug. 29 at a school board meeting.
“Yes,” superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell responded.
“I don’t know how that, how long that will last,” Gonzalez answered.
That conversation was one week ago. Gonzalez expressed her hesitation and concern over returning to class, just a few months after her best friend and 20 others died at Robb Elementary.
One day before school starts, that feeling is radiating through adults, too.
”I would make sure they stay home, and get homeschooled or do something, but not until the campuses are secured and safe should anyone, not even the teachers be allowed to come back,” Irene Santos, a former Houston teacher and Uvalde native said.
Santos said she is not confident in the fencing installed at Dalton Elementary and Uvalde Elementary.
Anson Bills, a father of three UCISD students is more concerned that Flores Elementary has not received the same 8-foot fencing.
His youngest son, Adam, was supposed to attend Flores this year.
”Flores doesn’t have a fence. Flores doesn’t have anything,” Bills said.
The district’s website shows fencing is in progress at only three of the eight UCISD campuses, no change from last week.
It’s the same for the secured vestibules.
Bills has decided to move Adam to the virtual academy, and is confident about this decision after assurances from his teacher.
“She’s told every parent that, she wants to make sure this runs smoothly as possible,” Bills said.
DPS troopers will be stationed outside of every school as students head back. According to Harrell, there will be 33 total troopers at their schools. There will be six at both Morales Junior High and Uvalde High School, four at each elementary and one at Crossroads Academy.
#HappeningNow @TxDPS is at @Uvalde_CISD campuses conducting training so their troopers are prepared for the first day of school tomorrow. There will be 33 troopers across all campuses. Tune in tonight at 5 and 6 as we preview the first day at school. @ksatnews pic.twitter.com/dcOPjh545G— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) September 5, 2022
Troopers were at campuses on Sunday and Monday to take part in training. According to a DPS spokesperson, the training is required by the “Texas Commission on Law Enforcement ahead of providing security for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District.”
While DPS won’t share what their troopers’ training will include, UCISD emailed parents to say none of the 33 troopers stationed at schools this year were at Robb on May 24.
No one can say what Tuesday will hold for students and their families, but throughout the community, there is hope for the best.
“Tomorrow will be another day and we’ll all pray for Uvalde,” Santo said.
On top of the physical changes for this school year, the district is evaluating and auditing their communication and WiFi at all campuses.
The district’s website shows that has been completed at every campus, but multiple emails and calls to district officials to discuss further have gone unanswered.