AUSTIN (KXAN) — Picture this: a room full of fifth graders on the morning after the presidential election.
“I remember walking into the classroom with the whole class at 7:30 in the morning and there was complete silence,” said Beatriz Hernandez. “There was a lot of anxiety and fear in the air.”
It was a rare sound for the teacher at Pickle Elementary School, and that silence was followed by a stream of questions, and some young tears.
“What does this mean for us? Are we all going back? Are we all going to be sent to Mexico?” said Hernandez. “They were all looking at me waiting for me to give them an answer to ease that anxiety and fear.”
Even those who mentor students have been fielding questions from children in pre-kindergarten.
“For them to live in fear at four years old is really sad,” Montserrat Garibay, the vice-president of Education Austin. “We can teach kids A-B-Cs, 1-2-3s, science and social studies, but the reality is if they are scared and they are coming with this baggage to school they are not learning,”
She will be attending a town hall meeting at Saturday hosted by AISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz and School Board Trustee Paul Saldana. The purpose is to have a positive conversation about supporting an inclusive school community, and provide students and parents with support and resources to help ease their fears.
The town hall was brought on by an open letter Trustee Saldana posted to his Facebook page Thursday. He addressed it to all 83,000 AISD students telling them their school and classroom is their home, and a safe place.
“I found solace in the letter because it was such a strong, compassionate message,” said Nancy Mims, a mother of two AISD students.
She will also be attending the town hall Saturday to talk about ways to help empower parents and students.
“I sent my son to school [the day after the election] and I said the only thing I wanted him to do at school that day was to love everybody, and that people are going to need a lot of love.”
The town hall will be held in the cafeteria at Crockett High School Saturday, Nov. 11, 2016 at 10 a.m. The address is 5601 Manchaca Rd, Austin, TX 78745.