Uvalde children return to school after 21 students and teachers were slaughtered. But some kids refuse to go back to classrooms

“I went and talked to my son and I told him, ‘They’ll have more cops. They’re going to have high fencing. And they didn’t have it,'” said Zion’s father, Adam Martinez.

“They said, ‘It doesn’t matter. They won’t protect us.'”

Zion’s fear is not unfounded. Since the tragic end of the last school year, the grief in Uvalde, Texas has been exacerbated by outrage.
The families learned that law enforcement officers waited more than 70 minutes before entering two classrooms, where 19 students and two teachers were mortally injured.
21 people lost their lives at Rob Elementary School
And officials repeatedly changed their stories about what happened as new evidence emerged.

Now, families who have already lost one child in the massacre worry about sending another child back to school. And months of preparation test will be taken by parents and school administrators.

Rob Elementary School will not reopen

No student or employee will return to the site of the worst school massacre in nearly a decade.

“We’re not going back to that campus,” Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said in June.

Instead, kids who were first graders at Rob Elementary last year will start second grade at Dalton Elementary.

Last year in Robb second and third graders would move to the new Uvalde Elementary located on the city’s existing educational complex. Many Rob Elementary teachers have transferred to Uvalde Elementary.

And some students have left the school district altogether.

Enrollment at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde began its new school year with double the enrollment of elementary-age students compared to the previous fall, its principal said. New students include 30 students from Rob Elementary, who received a scholarship to attend private school.

Rob Elementary can be dismantled.  Here's What Happened to Other Schools After the Massacre

All remaining students in the Uvalde Public School District can sign up for distance learning and use a tablet provided by the school district.

Martinez said both of her children opted for distance learning. “I talked to my son and daughter, and they said they were afraid that if this happened again, they would not be protected,” he said.

“There’s no fence at Junior High where my daughter will be going. There’s no way I can convince her to go when there’s no fence.”

But distance learning is not possible for some families in which both parents work outside the home.

And the changing scene doesn’t seem to ease the horrifying pain of the bereaved families – especially as they are debating whether to send their other children back to school.

‘I don’t think my kids are safe’

Ujiyah Garcia should start fifth grade today. But at the age of 10 he was shot dead in the classroom, leaving his family crippled by grief.

Ujiah Garcia was on her school's honor roll and loved anything with wheels.  He was killed before he was able to take his first driving lessons.

“It’s something that terrorizes you daily and at night,” said Ujiah’s uncle, Brett Cross, who was raising Ujiah like his own son.

“I close my eyes. I only look at my son. I hear gunshots. It’s something that never goes away.”

But Cross has four other children in the school district. He is struggling to decide whether to send them back to school in person.

“You want your kids to be able to go and get that education and all, but at the same time, you’re afraid they won’t make it out by the end of the day,” he said.

Brett Krauss shows off his tattoo in honor of his slain nephew, Ujiah Garcia, whom he was raising as his son.
Cross spent much of this summer demanding accountability from the school district and lambasting the law enforcement response.

“We’ve already seen that he didn’t do his job. So how should we trust him?” he said last week. “I don’t think my kids are safe.”

Krauss has two 15-year-old daughters who have personally decided to return to school. He said that he is old enough to make his own decisions with the guidance of his parents.

Uvalde Princip defends his actions but says 'I will guess myself for the rest of my life'

“But my younger (ages 7 and 10) … we’re not sure yet,” he said. “I don’t think everything has been done to protect our children.”

Cross said he appreciated some of the changes the school district has made. After the district announced 33 Texas Department of Public Safety officers would serve at Uvalde schools this year, Cross said he was assured that those DPS officers would not be among dozens who responded on the day of the massacre.

But he wants to see more active surveillance of schools. “We have a lot of requests about someone … monitoring and looking at everything like that, a dedicated person,” he said. “It would make me feel a lot more secure.”

what is the school district doing

After months of public outcry, the Uvalde school district fired its police chief, Pedro “Pete” Arredondo. State investigators and law enforcement analysts say Arredondo was the actual incident commander on the day of the massacre.
A memorial outside Robb Elementary School in June honored the 19 children and two teachers killed on May 24.

The Uvalde School District also announced new safety measures planned for this school year. These include appointing 10 more school police officers; installing 500 new security cameras; 33 Texas DPS officers in charge of the Uvalde School District; And looking for a new interim police chief.

The school district said it has also increased emotional support for students, including rest dogs on every campus for the first few weeks of school, additional school counselors and trauma-informed care training for all staff members.

But Cross said he has not asked for more safeguards – not just for his surviving children, but for all children in the hope that no other family will suffer the pain he is going through.

“I am fighting the system that let him (Ujia) down. I am in every city council meeting. I am in every school board meeting,” he said.

Cross has also questioned why one might buy assault-style rifles like the ones used to kill 18-year-old Ujiah in Texas.

“You have to be 21 to buy cigarettes and alcohol – things that can kill yourself. But you only have to be 18 to buy something that can kill many people,” he said.

“I’m putting my misery into the fight right now because this fight is a fight everyone should be a part of – but nobody is unless it’s theirs. And it’s so hard on the side that your What to do with this hole in the heart, this fight.”

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