More than 400 Sandy Hook Elementary School students from kindergarten through grade 4 return to classes for the first time after last month's shooting.
NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 3, 2013) (REUTERS) - Hundreds of the children who escaped the harrowing attack on their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, last month head back to classes on Thursday (January 3) 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. ChalkHill 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.
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.
When the students return around 9 a.m (1400 gmt) Thursday, they will find all of the belongings they left behind when teachers and police evacuated them from Sandy Hooknearly 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.