UVALDE, Texas (Nexstar) — What should be an exciting start to a new school year for the Uvalde community is instead a painful reminder for families who lost children in May’s school shooting.
Students in Uvalde went back to school Tuesday — a little over three months after a gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School days before summer break.
“If she could sit here right now, and just, just so I could touch her and hug her and kiss her, and just tell her I loved her,” said Alfred Garza, who lost his only daughter Amerie Jo in the shooting. “I mean, that’s something I can’t have anymore, you know.”
“I just want her to be remembered as the beautiful soul she was,” he said then.
The Robb Elementary campus has since been closed, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District announced in June. Students who would’ve attended classes there will be taught at other district facilities.
In late July, the district also delayed the start of the school year until after Labor Day so security improvements could be made to all campuses.
Those improvements include upgraded door locks and an increased presence of state law enforcement at schools. Gov. Greg Abbott announced in mid-August the Texas Department of Public Safety would provide over 30 personnel for campuses for the new school year.
New 8-foot fencing was also donated for the district’s schools, but some parents say the increased security isn’t enough.
“So if we did make them go, we wouldn’t feel safe,” said Adam Martinez.
His two children survived the shooting, but the scars are ever present.
“My children have been traumatized by this,” Martinez said.
His children will start the school year from home by learning virtually.
“I feel like if the children are scared, it’s going to be hard for them to learn,” Martinez said.
Some parents have raised questions about whether officers who were faulted for failing to act quickly during the shooting are now still responsible for keeping campuses safe.
The Uvalde CISD school board in late August did vote to fire Pete Arredondo, who was the district’s police chief when the shooting occurred.
School districts across Texas are showing their support for the Uvalde community by wearing Uvalde CISD’s colors — maroon and white — on Tuesday. State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), who represents the area, also posted to social media Tuesday urging the public to wear maroon in solidarity.
“We will always remember the tragedy that happened on May 24th. Keep the victims, survivors, and community in your thoughts and prayers,” Gutierrez wrote.