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‘A little more nervous than normal’: Parents, students prepare for first day of school in Uvalde

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UVALDE – In just one week, Uvalde students will return to the classroom for the first time since their last school year ended in tragedy.

For months, parents have called for safety and security changes after 19 students and two teachers were killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24. The work has started, but it won’t be ready in time for school to begin on Sept. . 6.

On Tuesday night, there was a taste of what next week will hold as parents and their students walked in and out of Uvalde Elementary to meet the teacher night.

“A little more nervous than normal, but he’s got a good teacher,” said Angela Potter, a mother of two UCISD students.

Lucas Potter is going into third grade. He was at Robb Elementary on May 24.

Angela Potter said she’ll have some fear of sending Lucas and his brother back to school next Tuesday.

“You don’t think it can happen to you, and then all of a sudden, it does,” she said.

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An 8-foot-tall non-scalable perimeter fence partially encloses the Uvalde Elementary campus. The work is 90% done, according to superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell. He said gates still need to be built and installed.

It’s the same at Dalton Elementary, but go down the road to Morales Junior High, and there’s no new perimeter fencing in sight.

“I went to Morales yesterday, and they didn’t have anything improved over there that I saw,” said Anson Bills, a father of three UCISD students. “This morning, we made him virtual. Yeah, that’s how I feel about that.”

According to the district’s website, fencing work has started on three of the eight campuses.

Uvalde High School will be measured, and a timeline will be made for when its fencing will be put up.

“I trust this fence. It’s the school board I don’t trust,” Bills said, grabbing the fencing at Uvalde Elementary.

Meanwhile, the work on the secured vestibules at each campus is running behind, according to Harrell. He said it has only been started at Uvalde Elementary, UDLA, and UHS.

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“We’ll have DPS officers assigned at each entry point when school begins,” Harrell said.

The district bought 500 security cameras. They’re fully installed at Uvalde High School and started installing them at Morales Junior High, but no other campuses have them yet.

“Again, work won’t be totally completed by Tuesday. However, we will continue this work until it is complete,” Harrell said.

With school around the corner, there’s some optimism about the work that’s been done.

“Hopefully, he can feel a little safer,” Angela Potter said, referring to her son.

There’s also plenty of skepticism.

“If I have to pull (my son), I will. And right now, the only thing I see here is a fence,” Bills said.

UCISD said 136 students have enrolled in their virtual academy. The application process is open until Aug. 31.

Student transfer numbers for this school year aren’t out yet, but according to the Texas Education Agency’s UCISD data, there were 416 total transfers out of the district in the 2021-2022 school year.

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