‘Everything is going to be okay’: Uvalde students return to school Tuesday

For the first time since 19 students and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary, students in Uvalde students at Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District will head back to class.

UVALDE, Texas – For the first time since 19 students and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary, students in Uvalde students at Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District will head back to class.

Benson Elementary, like Dawson and Flores, is one of the few elementary schools taking in hundreds of students from Robb Elementary. While some students within the district transferred or opted for virtual learning, many will return to other school campuses within the district.

Some of these schools will have new eight-foot, non-scalable fences around their perimeters. Additional counselors will be on campuses. Texas Department of Public Safety is adding 33 officers to schools. Extra security cameras have been added to facilities. Robb Elementary will never reopen.

Today marks 106 days since a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“It’s sad. Very sad,” said Maria Rodriguez, a Uvalde resident. “I was raised here in Uvalde. I came to the U.S. and Uvalde when I was 10.”

Rodriguez attended Robb Elementary in the school’s early days during the 1950s.

“This was my first elementary school. So, I came here. I was here until 6th grade.”

An elaborate memorial outside the school lives on, honoring the 19 students and two teachers killed on May 24.

“You can’t imagine that things like that would happen, in a small town like this; but it did.”

The playgrounds and fields where children once played are still and overgrown.

Watching the grass grow is Baldemar. This Uvalde resident also attended Robb Elementary in the 50s. He lives across the street looking at boarded windows.

“I remember writing down 1958 on my books,” explained Baldemar.

The father and grandfather said on the day of the shooting, he watched his grandson, a student at Robb Elementary, be ushered to safety that May day.

“I am going to miss that school, all my kids and grandkids and everything,” said Baldemar.

“You’ll never completely get over something like this, but I mean we have to keep on going, living and make the best of it. Right now, it’s clouding, but the sun will come out and it will be better for everybody,” explained Rodriguez.

The grand memorial adds color to one of the darkest tragedies in Texas’ history. Months later, people from all over the world stop by to pay their respects to the lives lost.

Ava is a 9-year-old student who just started the fourth grade at a Pasadena school.

For the first time since 19 students and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary, students in Uvalde students at Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District will head back to class.

“It very sticks to my stomach, no kid should be treated like this. It’s very sad,” she said as she stopped by the memorial with her family.

Ava has a message for Uvalde students returning to school today.

“I hope you have so much fun. I hope nothing happens. You know. It is very sad. Sorry, but it’s… just have fun, just hope nothing happens, be positive,” the fourth grader cried as her father comforted her with a touch on the shoulder.

Liani Lara is a Houston-area educator. She cried and said, “I am here paying my respects to all the students who lost their lives and the teachers that came to school to enjoy their last couple of days before summer break. It hits a lot harder than seeing it on TV. On TV, you know, it’s where you watch movies, cartoons, and then when you come here in real life, you think this really happened.”

For the first time since 19 students and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary, students in Uvalde students at Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District will head back to class.

Lara said the shooting at Robb Elementary changed how she educates.

“It has made me realize that everything can change in a moment. It’s given me a lot more patience with them.”

With patience comes perseverance. From one Texas town to another, the state is united in being Uvalde Strong.

“I would give them one big hug, and tell them everything is going to be okay, and assure them we are going to do everything we can to make sure this is not going to happen,” said Lara.

“I spoke to my kids the whole week,” Celeste Ibarra said. “I drilled them on if anything happened again, try to make it out the window, run, don’t scream. Call me. We live right across... I won’t be going to work, that’s for sure. So, I can just watch them.”

Ibarra said there were reports of threats Monday night. She prayed with her children before they went to school.

“We were praying. My girls were praying, and I was praying to make sure… God is here to protect them,” she said.

Ibarra said she wishes more was being done to protect the children as they return to class.

“Our kids weren’t taken into consideration,” she said. “The kids lives’ lost weren’t taken into consideration. We have cheap fences, open gaps, there’s no security cameras, we don’t have nothing. Our kids’ lives weren’t worth nothing.”

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