Sandy Hook students to return to class at Monroe school Thursday
By WFSB Staff
20 small and 6 large bronze stars are displayed on the roof of Newtown's firehouse.
MONROE, CT (WFSB) -
While students and parents from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown toured and teachers set up their classrooms, school administration and police officials discussed how they would all move forward and bring back a sense of normalcy at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
"I think right now it has to be the safest school in America," said Monore Police Lt. Keith White.
Students and their families visited the former Chalk Hill School Wednesday afternoon as they prepare to return to classes for the first time since Adam Lanza opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 first-grade students and six adults.
He shot and killed his mother while she slept in bed before he headed to the school.
Teachers and several workers spent the last few weeks painting, moving in furniture and recreating classroom space in advance of the students' arrival.
At one point, there were about 80 people working inside the building to make it a "seamless transition" for the incoming students. Many Monore teachers offered to help Newtown teachers set up their classrooms.
"The students coming in completes the circle," said Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson. "That's what's missing right now, getting our students back."
According to Robinson, the staff have officially renamed Chalk Hill School to Sandy Hook Elementary School to give them "a sense of identity."
The students will remain at this new building for the rest of the school year.
Robinson said the school "feels extremely secure" and White added that police will continue increased patrols in the area. Every car that comes onto the school's campus has been stopped and questioned, he added.
"Our goal is to make it safe and secure for these students," White said.
Security devices have been installed in the building, but police would not elaborate.
"Obviously we don't want to overburden them with the police," White said. "We want this to be a normal school where they can go and enjoy themselves and learn throughout the day."
Counselors said it's important for children to get back to a normal routine and for teachers and parents to offer sensitive reassurances. Mental health workers will be available to all the students and staff, Robinson said.
Robinson said that it was good to hear teachers laughing as they were setting up their classrooms, which will look similar to the ones at the original Sandy Hook School.
"Teachers were creative in setting up the rooms and some of them are very different," Robinson said.
Many furniture and supplies from Sandy Hook have be brought to the new building.
"Snowflakes from around the world are all over the school," Robinson said about the Sandy Hook Campaign.
Robinson said that Thursday will be a "normal school day" without a "heavy curriculum."
The students, who will be bused to the school, will be greeted by signs in green and white, which are the colors of Sandy Hook.
A majority of students and their parents have already visited the new school with many of them liking the larger gym, White said.
Gov. Dannel Malloy met with Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers and administration privately.
Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe also said that in Newtown, there will be increased police at all schools in the town. He added that there is a resource officer in each of the three schools and additional officers on the campuses.
When asked about the investigation, Kehoe said all questions about it will be handled by state police.
"Kids that age don't need to relive that," Robinson said in regards to speaking about the shooting at school.
The Connecticut State Police are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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