UVALDE, Texas – As the community of Uvalde heals and gets ready to head back to the classroom on Tuesday, the return to school is a completely different story for the families of the 21 victims.
Their loved ones aren’t having a first day of school. And that pain is still very real.
“We hope everyone has a good school year. We don’t want this to affect the kids any more than it has already,” Angel Garza, stepdad to Amerie Jo Garza, said.
The pain of losing his 10-year-old stepdaughter in the tragedy at Robb Elementary in May is still very real for Garza. His daughter was a fourth grade hero who called 911 from her classroom, ultimately giving her life to save others. As he continues to grieve, he hopes the students starting the new school year can move forward and feel safe.
“We want everybody to do so, and try to enjoy school. It’s supposed to be a safe place. Supposed to be a place where you having fun,” Garza said.
Nikki and Brett Cross, the legal guardians to Uziyah Garcia, are still hurting from losing their 10-year-old. They’re helping the brothers and sisters that Uziyah left behind heal as they are faced with the start of the new school year.
“It’s like night-time rolls around and my 10-year-old sleeps on a cot in my room, because he shared a room with his brother (Uziyah),” Nikki Cross said. “And he can’t bear to be up there at night. I mean, they used to spend hours at night talking and playing around, like in here. And I said, ‘boys, there’s school in the morning. You go to bed’, you know, and he sleeps holding his dad’s hand, because he can’t bear to be alone.”
The Crosses, who are known for being a voice for the victims and fighting for school security, say they don’t want to send their children back to school until everything is fixed correctly in regards to safety.
“Flores (Elementary), that is right here. It’s where another one of my children will go. I see nothing done there. That’s scary. He’s scared. I’m scared,” Cross said.
Jazmin Cazares, sister to nine-year-old Jackie Cazares, will be a senior in high school. She says she doesn’t want to go back, but knows she has to finish for Jackie. She just feels like a piece of her heart will be missing in her future.
“Knowing that I’m going to have to grow up without a sister looking up to me. It’s things like that. She is not going to be able to see me graduate. I’m not going to see her graduate. Things like that, it’s tough,” Cazares said.