Uvalde pupils return to classroom months after massacre

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in May 24 shooting

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Pupils in Uvalde, Texas, returned to school on Tuesday, months after 19 children and two teachers were killed during a mass shooting inside Robb Elementary School, an event that sparked renewed debate over gun control laws in the US.

The children will not return to Robb Elementary, however. The primary school will not be reopened and the town's mayor said it will be demolished.

“You can never ask a child to go back or teacher to go back in that school ever,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said in June.

Pupils instead will continue their education at different schools. Some have left the school district entirely.

“I’m just nervous, scared,” Ashley Morales, whose son Jeremiah lost three friends in the May 24 shooting, told the Associated Press.

“Oh my gosh, it’s actually going to happen,” she said. “School is going to start.”

Children beginning their term at Uvalde Elementary walked through the gates of a 2.4-metre-tall metal fencing surrounding the campus, as a state trooper stood guard outside the entrance.

The Uvalde School District said it has also provided increased emotional support for pupils, including more school counsellors and trauma care training for employees.

Emotional support dogs will also be placed on school campuses during the first few weeks.

Other safety measures the school district has taken include the hiring of an additional 10 school police officers, assigning 33 Texas Department of Public Safety officers to the area and the continued search for a new interim police chief.

The implementation of the new security measures — including about 500 new security cameras and locks — remains incomplete.

And the hiring of additional security staff may not be seen as assuring after a Texas House investigation condemned the police response to the Robb Elementary mass shooting, as those stuck inside the building waited more than an hour to be rescued.

About 400 officers responded to the scene, but “egregiously poor decision-making” led to chaos as a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two teachers before he was fatally shot.

“There was an overall lackadaisical approach by law enforcement at the scene,” the report said.

Adam and Raquel Martinez, whose 8-year-old son Zayon was at Robb Elementary on the day of the shooting, said their children remain scared.

Zayon and his 12-year-old sister Analiyh “don't trust the police” to keep them safe, their parents told Texas Public Radio.

The May 24 massacre was one of several mass shootings that brought about fresh calls for gun control legislation. President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill in July designed to keep weapons out of the hands of those deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

Mr Biden last week reiterated his call for a ban on assault-style weapons, such as the AR-15-style weapon used at Robb Elementary, and urged Americans to vote for leaders in favour of supporting such measures in the midterm elections this November.

Updated: September 06, 2022, 6:57 PM
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