Sandy Hook kids head to school for first time since attack

The sign post that used to mark the entrance to the Sandy Hook Elementary school, and where a makeshift memorial for victims who died in the December 14 shootings once stood, is seen empty in Newtown, Connecticut.

Hundreds of the children who escaped the harrowing attack on their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, last month head back to classes on Thursday for the first time since a gunman killed 20 of their schoolmates and six staff members.

School officials are preparing for droves of anxious parents to join the fleet of buses carting children to a disused middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Chalk Hill Middle School, closed about a year and half ago, has been hastily refurbished in the three weeks since the December 14 attack and renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School.

With their children’s safety foremost on parents’ and officials’ minds in the wake of the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, the school has been outfitted with a new security system. Monroe Police Department officers will patrol the grounds, and all outside doorways and sidewalks will be under surveillance.

“I think right now we have to make this the safest school in America,” Monroe Police Lieutenant Keith White said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Parents wishing to remain with their kids, ages 5 to 10 in kindergarten through grade 4, will be allowed to accompany them to their classrooms and afterwards may stay in the school’s “lecture room” for as long as they like, according to a memo to parents on the school’s website. Counseling will be available for students and parents at the new school, about 7 miles south of the scene of the shooting.

“I’m not sure I’m ready yet to totally let them go,” Sandy Hook parent Sarah Swansiger said on CNN about her trepidation over the return to school.

When the students return around 9 a.m. Thursday, they will find all of the belongings they left behind when teachers and police evacuated them from Sandy Hook nearly three weeks ago after Adam Lanza burst through the school doors and opened fire.

They will be welcomed to a building that has been decked out as a “Winter Wonderland” with the help of thousands of kids from around the world.

“This does not look like the other elementary school,” Newtown School Superintendent Janet Robinson said emphatically.

In the meantime, no new details have emerged to explain why the 20-year-old Lanza, armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle, two other firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, targeted the school.

Described by family friends as having Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home about 5 miles from the school before driving to Sandy Hook and embarking on the massacre, police said. He then took his own life as police were arriving at the school, which had an enrollment of 456.

Police have offered no firm motive for the attack, and state police investigators have said it could be months before they finish their report.

The massacre in Newtown, a rural New England town of 27,000 residents about 70 miles northeast of New York City, stunned the nation, prompting President Barack Obama to call it the worst day of his presidency and reigniting an extensive debate on gun control. Obama has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with assembling a package of gun-control proposals to submit to Congress in the next several weeks.

The National Rifle Association, the most powerful gun-rights lobby in the United States, has rebuffed calls for more stringent firearms restrictions and instead called for armed guards to patrol every public school in the country.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Movies

Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.