Sandy Hook Shooting: New School For Survivors

Brian Donathan, in Monroe, Connecticut
Sandy Hook Shooting: New School For Survivors

Officials have admitted the Connecticut school where 20 children and six adults were shot dead may never reopen, as new classrooms are set up nearby for survivors of the massacre.

Staff and volunteers have been working around the clock, moving desks, chairs and filing cabinets from Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, to the former Chalk Hill Middle School in neighbouring Monroe.

Sandy Hook has been shut down indefinitely following Friday's massacre.

Lieutenant George Sinko, of Newtown Police Department, said he "would find it very difficult" for students to return to the same school but added: "We want to keep these kids together. They need to support each other."

A Newtown school employee, who wanted to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the process and because his son attended Sandy Hook, said the furniture being moved to Chalk Hill was from sections of the school not affected by the shooting rampage.

He said officials have examined the floor plans of both schools to help make the young students' secondary home as familiar as possible.

"The classrooms will be set up to be as seamless as possible, so they'll think they're walking into their old classrooms," he said.

The worker added that despite some people in the town saying it was too soon to send the children back to school, he believes the sooner they are back in the classroom the better.

"My son is getting on that bus," he said. "I'll follow him to school, and when he gets off the bus I'll give him a wink. He'll be fine. They're all going to be fine."

Lieutenant Brian McCauley, a spokesman for the Monroe Police Department, said: "These kids have been through something that none of us ever, ever want to go through in our lives, and we want to make their transition back to school as easy, simple and sensitive as possible."

Officials have not determined an exact start date at Chalk Hill, but Monroe Fire Marshal William Davin said the process of making sure the school meets fire and state building codes should be completed in "a matter of days".

Representatives from the Newtown school district will make the final call on when the students will return, Lt McCauley explained.

He said police had been stationed at all schools in Monroe and that officers will be on hand once Chalk Hill opens.

Monroe resident Vicki D'Auria expressed pride in knowing that her town had reached out to aid survivors of the Sandy Hook massacre.

"I've never been more proud to live in Monroe," she said. "The fact that all those kids can now come ... they don't have to go back to that school, it's very nice."

She said her 10-year-old son, who is a fourth grader at Fawn Hollow Elementary next to Chalk Hill, is hoping he gets to make a welcome poster before the Sandy Hook children arrive.

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