COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school left 21 people dead — 19 students and two teachers who died trying to protect them.

Now educators across the country are speaking out about the fears they face each day when they come into school.

Columbus City Schools teacher Regina Fuentes described the atmosphere at school Wednesday, one day after the attack in Texas, as hectic and on edge.

She said when she chose to become a teacher, she wasn’t prepared for the fears these school shootings have created.

“Teaching at this particular time is very difficult because we have to try to teach them curriculum and standards and everything,” Fuentes said, “but then there are all of these social-emotional things that within the last few years have been so much.”

She said the first thought that went through her head when she heard about the Texas shooting was, “Not again.”

“I have a fear that is in my heart all the time,” Fuentes said. “I show up for my kids. I show up to do what I do because I absolutely love it. However, I am constantly a little bit hesitant and fearful. ‘Is it safe?’”

Fuentes said when students came to her Wednesday to ask about the shooting, she answered honestly.

She says the climate in schools has changed in her 23 years of teaching and because of that, she takes every drill done at school very seriously.

“It’s very triggering for alarms to go off and suddenly have to get into a mode where you are rushing 30 kids into a small space trying to make sure they are safe,” Fuentes said.

She said she still considers school to be a safe place because there is always someone there to talk to students when they need it.

Columbus parents like Adrienne Luke said they are thankful for the classroom heroes.

“They are on their feet all the time, they take care of our kids, they build relationships with the kids,” Luke said. “This is something that kids should never have to go through, and this is something that I don’t believe, in teacher education, you are ever prepared for.”

In the wake of the violence, teachers are fighting to find a way to make sure this never happens to another school.

“Once again, these school shootings happen and it is, ‘Thoughts and prayers; have a good day,’” said John Coneglio, president of the Columbus Education Association (CEA), the Columbus teachers’ union. “I think we, as a community, need to do a little bit more than thoughts and prayers.”

Coneglio said CEA is fighting for teacher safety in this year’s contract campaign, looking to ensure those who are teaching in the cafeterias and auditoriums have the keys to a locked space in a lockdown situation.

“Through our contract campaign, we are fighting for dedicated space for our teachers that travel, Music, art, and stuff like that,” Coneglio said. “So, they need to have a safe space. They need to have access to keys.”

They are also fighting to make sure students have access to counseling resources both in school and outside of school.

Fuentes said her heart breaks for everyone involved in the attack and she commends all the survivors who stood up to protect others.

“Just like yesterday, the teacher who sacrificed herself to save the students, I understand that. I get that,” she said. “So yes, I feel like school, in that sense, is a safe place because you can always find someone to talk to.”

A message posted to the Columbus City Schools website by Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon outlines safety measures already in place at district buildings aimed at keeping students and staff safe.

Those measures outlined by Dixon are:

  • Additional safety and security staff
  • Partnership with law enforcement
  • Emergency operation procedures
  • Check-in procedures
  • Metal detector wand screenings
  • See something, say something hotline
  • Mental health support

“Columbus City Schools values our partnership with the families we serve, as we strive to make a difference in the lives of our community’s children,” Dixon writes in the message.