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Uvalde students return to school Tuesday for the first time since the Robb Elementary tragedy

Emotions are expected to be running high as families bring their children back to school for the first time since the shooting.

UVALDE, Texas — More than three months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, Uvalde CISD students and staff will return to the classroom for the new school year.

Robb Elementary was closed after a gunman entered a 4th grade classroom and killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24. It happened during the last week of the 2021-2022 school year.

Emotions are expected to be running high as families bring their children back to school after tragedy struck their small town. While most school districts resumed class in middle to late August, Uvalde CISD delayed the first day.

The district used some of that time to firm up its security plans and deal with the legal process of terminating former school police chief Pete Arredondo, who faced heavy criticism over the botched law enforcement response.

Superintendent Hal Harrell reassured parents at a Monday school board meeting that new security measures are nearing completion and dozens of law enforcement officers will be on hand for the new year.

Below is the latest information on security measures added to district schools, campus realignment after the closing of Robb Elementary, and mental health services and counseling available to help students and staff cope with the new school year.

School security

The district posted on its website that the following security measures are currently underway:

  • Installing new 8-foot, non-scalable perimeter fencing at the elementary and junior high school campuses; logistics for perimeter fencing at the high school campus
  • Installing additional security cameras across the district
  • Upgrading doors and door locks
  • Providing additional training to all staff on the Raptor system
  • Enhancing annual rapid response training for all staff
  • Ongoing safety audit conducted by the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC)
  • Reviewing and revising standing policies and procedures
  • Additional training for all staff on updated policies and procedures
  • Additional training for the district police force
  • Opportunities to update or upgrade communication systems, including police radios and cellular connectivity

Law enforcement presence

Superintendent Hal Harrell said district police will support 33 Department of Public Safety officers stationed across campuses this year. The state police, he says, will be primarily responsible for school safety and security.

Three police officers from outside of Uvalde have also been hired by the district.

School police chief Pete Arredondo was fired on August 24 amid accusations he mishandled the law enforcement response to the shooting. The school board said Mike Hernandez, a lieutenant for the district's police force, would act as interim chief until a permanent replacement is found. The board also said it plans to have an external audit of the force.

RELATED: Gov. Abbott announces DPS security measures for Uvalde ISD

School realignment

According to the latest information from Uvalde CISD, below is the grade level alignment after the closing of Robb Elementary (it was previously reported that Robb students would attend Dalton Elementary, but that has since changed):

  • Uvalde Elementary (the Benson Complex campus) will serve students in third and fourth grade under the direction of the teachers and support staff from Robb Elementary.
  • Flores Elementary will serve students in the fifth and sixth grades. The teachers, support staff, and administrators at Flores Elementary will remain in place.
  • Crossroads Academy will be relocated to 537 E. Oppenheimer Street. This facility will meet the Academy’s unique needs for a flexible school day with a focus on individualized learning plans.

RELATED: Uvalde CISD announces request to delay start of school, grade level alignment changes

Mental health and counseling services

Counselors with specialized backgrounds in trauma and grief will be available to serve students and staff at all district campuses.

The district announced a partnership with Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine, also known as TCHATT, which helps identify behavioral health needs of children and adolescents.

The district is also contracting Rhithm, a company with an app that allows staff and students to log how they are feeling. Communities in Schools, a nonprofit organization focused on connecting students with resources, is also sending teams to the district to provide additional behavioral health support to students. 

RELATED: Family Service offers mental and emotional support as new school year nears in Uvalde

Additionally, more than a dozen organizations within Uvalde will be offering counseling and mental health services to the Uvalde community. You can find a complete list and contact information here.

Available school options

With many families concerned about school safety, Uvalde CISD has offered virtual learning as an option.. The remote learning is available to students in grades K-12.

Additionally, at least a dozen students from Robb Elementary have enrolled at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde. At the school, more than $1.5 million in contributions from several donors has gone toward helping families fund tuition for their children, and enhancing school security.

RELATED: After the Robb Elementary shooting, some Uvalde parents are choosing private or online education

Sacred Heart installed 8-foot steel fencing around the campus and implemented a main entrance security verification system. Windows are also on track to receive major upgrades.

Maroon out

On Tuesday, schools across Texas will be wearing maroon as a show of support for students and teachers returning for their first day of school at Uvalde ISD.

Credit: KENS 5
Uvalde Strong shirts created to show support on Sept. 6

Narsiza and Tesia Muniz say their children, who are students in Medina Valley ISD, will be wearing Uvalde's school colors. 

"When I take my kids Tuesday, I want to see maroon,' said Narsiza Muniz.

The sisters run Moonstruck Designs, a vinyl design business in west San Antonio. To date, they have made and sold dozens of t-shirts with the message of 'Uvalde Strong' for others to wear on September 6.

"Making these shirts, for us, was just a way of supporting," said Tesia Muniz.

The duo plans to donate a portion of the proceeds for their sales to support Uvalde.

Other local shops are also creating shirts

The owners of Takedown 210 said they are working through Labor Day to finish orders. A portion of proceeds will go to the Robb School Memorial Fund at First State Bank.

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