(CNN) -- The 60,000 El Paso students returning to school Monday are already getting a lesson no child should ever learn.
They're trying to cope with a massacre that ravaged their tight-knit, multicultural city just nine days ago. Authorities say the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart told police he was targeting Mexicans.
"We are devastated, we are hurting, but we are not broken," El Paso Independent School District Superintendent Juan Cabrera wrote.
"While the out of town coward aimed to destroy the culture that ties all of us, his actions instead helped us come together to build a more unified El Paso!"
As a father of three, Cabrera said he understands parents' concerns about sending their children to school.
"From closed-circuit cameras at every school to improved school entry security we are committed to a continuing effort to add more security protocols to support our efforts and our police force," Cabrera said.
"I can assure you, as a parent and superintendent of schools, if there was any indication of a threat, I would be the first to cancel classes."
But he said it's crucial that children continue to learn.
"School is about routine and normalcy. We know that getting back to their school friends and teachers will be part of the healing process for our children, and our community," Cabrera said.
"There is no better way to fight ignorance, hate and racism than with education."