AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, 19 children and two adults were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
With this being the last week of school for so many students in Central Texas, this was a time of elation for most kids. Now, local districts are reacting to the news from Uvalde with shock, sadness and reassurance for students and parents.
"We are heartbroken. We share the grief that is felt by everyone around the world. We remain steadfast in our commitment with our colleagues and communities to do everything we can to keep our students safe and will continue to be vigilant," Austin ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde wrote on Facebook.
A day later in a message to parents, Elizalde addressed increased police presence at schools and for graduation, as well as other campus safety measures.
"It's important for you to know what we do every day to provide a safe environment for our students and staff," Elizalde said. "Access to all doors at all of our schools is restricted, and only authorized key cards can unlock them from the outside. Our police officers monitor social media and respond to every single threat posted online."
AISD Police Acting Chief Beverly Freshour also said that due to exams taking place at high schools this week, those officers are helping monitor middle and elementary schools.
See the full interview with AISD Acting Chief Freshour here.
Round Rock ISD Superintendent Hafaed Azaiez sent a letter to parents Tuesday night, addressing the tragedy in Uvalde. He wrote in part, "Your children are precious ... Our safety and security department and Round Rock ISD police have emergency plans and procedures in place to prevent and respond to an active shooter event."
Azaiez also wrote that all RRISD schools lock their doors during the school day, and they use video intercom systems so staff can see people coming in and out. RRISD also received a grant from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to ensure that all elementary school campuses have bullet-resistant film on front windows and doors.
Del Valle ISD Superintendent Annette Tielle expressed similar sentiments, saying that administrators and safety personnel "continually prioritize, review and respond to provide a safe learning environment."
"We understand that our staff and students may have an additional level of stress or concerns when an event like this occurs so close to home. Please know that our counseling staff and social workers are available if your student is in need of any mental health services," Tielle said.
Tielle also reminded the community about the QuickTip link, an anonymous location for students, families and teachers to report any suspicious activity. Each campus has a behavior threat assessment team to proactively address any reported or self-reported behavioral concerns, according to Tielle.
Pflugerville ISD told KVUE that for its last two days of school, the PfISD police department has stepped up patrols to have an increased police presence at all campuses. The district has also coordinated with the Pflugerville Police Department to have increased patrol units around campuses over the next two days.
"We have also received word from state officials that DPS troopers will have heightened presence across the state around schools within their normal patrol routes, and we have had some troopers visit our campuses this morning already," the district said.
Meanwhile, in a letter to parents, students and staff, Hays CISD Superintendent Eric Wright listed recent safety improvements the district has made, saying, "I hope this brings you some reassurance, but I also know that no matter how long the list, it is never enough. Improving campus safety is a never-ending job and despite all that we do, we always have room to grow in our efforts."
Some of the improvements Wright listed included the creation of a District Office of Safety and Security in 2018 and a recently-approved expansion of that office, secure vestibules, bullet-resistant glass film on all windows, security monitors in all front offices and more.
Several other Central Texas school districts have posted social media messages in response to the Uvalde shooting.
Dripping Springs ISD said it is "devastated by the tragedy," Georgetown ISD tweeted that "our hearts are broken and Manor ISD posted that it is "deeply saddened by the loss of life, physical injuries, and emotional turmoil sustained."
"While we cannot make sense of yesterday's events, we can work together to maintain safety on our campuses and strengthen outreach programs to identify students who need help. We can circle in as a community and provide resources, support and guidance. Most of all, on this last day of the 2021-22 school year, we can be grateful for what we have and hug our children just a little tighter."
The Kyle Police Department also said it will be directing patrol staff as well as officers from other assignments and divisions to "make every effort" to increase presence at all schools in the city's jurisdiction.
"We are working closely with our partner agencies and Hays CISD to keep our community safe and to provide a sense of comfort as our children return to school today, and for the rest of the school year," Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said.
Although Kyle officers routinely walk through and check in with staff, the department said there will be a more deliberate presence on and around campuses as they wind down the school year.
The University of Texas Police Department said it visited its elementary campus on Wednesday.
"In hopes of bringing reassurance and comfort to those who may have felt uneasy today, our officers visited UT Elementary to talk to students," the department said. "They explained how we help keep our community safe and answered questions about equipment on the UTPD uniform."
Britny Eubank on social media: Twitter
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