Sandy Hook children return to school

00:12, Jan 03 2013
Conneticut shooting
Police tape off an area around a car after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Conneticut shooting
Family members of comfort each other after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 27 people have died.
Conneticut shooting
Family members of comfort each other after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 27 people have died.
Conneticut shooting
Police patrol the streets outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in which 27 people have died.
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A mother comforts her children after the shooting.
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Two children comfort each other after the shooting.
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A teacher leads children across the parking lot to safety.
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Parents arrive to pick their children up from the the school.
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Parents arrive to pick their children up from the the school.
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Relatives of victims in the mass shooting react to the news.
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Police and emergency services set up their gear in the parking lot of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
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Police search a building at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
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Police tape off an area around an empty car.
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Police tape off an area around an empty car.
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Relatives of victims in the mass shooting react to the news.
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US President Barack Obama was visibly upset during a news conference about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
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A woman weeps outside a building set up to counsel family members affected by a shooting nearby at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
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The families of victims grieve near the school.
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A flag flies at half mast as a school bus passes along Main Street in Newtown, Connecticut.
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Families leave the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department near the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut after dozens of people were shot dead, most of them children.
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Police walk through a cordoned off crime scene related to the shootings.
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Supporters of gun control legislation hold candles during a rally in front of the White House in Washington after the shootings.
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A vigil has been held at a church in Newtown, Connecticut, after dozens of people - mostly children - were killed in a mass shooting.
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Farah Sheikh of New York, takes part in a candlelight vigil in Times Square, for the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting.
Victoria Soto
Victoria Soto, 27, is shown in this undated handout photo posted on Tumblr in her honour. Soto was one of six adults killed at a Connecticut elementary school.
Lauren Russeau
Lauren Russeau, 30, is shown in this undated handout photo posted on Facebook in her honour. Russeau was one of six adults killed at a Connecticut elementary school.
Mary Sherlach
Mary Sherlach, 56, is shown in this undated handout photo provided by her family. Sherlach was one of six adults killed at a Connecticut elementary school.

The children who escaped a shooter's rampage at a US primary school last month will be returning to classes in a neighbouring town in a refurbished school now named after their old one.

Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson announced that the Connecticut students' new school, the former Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, has been renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School.

She said the Sandy Hook staff made that decision.

"That's who they are. They're the Sandy Hook family," Robinson said after a news conference at a park in Monroe a kilometres from the school, which will open for classes on Thursday (Friday NZT) morning. An open house was held for parents and students today.

Robinson added that renaming the Chalk Hill school will allow staff and students to keep "their identity and a comfort level."

The school where the shootings occurred remains closed and guarded by police. Newtown officials haven't decided yet on the building's future.

It's been nearly three weeks since the December 14 massacre, when gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 students and six educators. Lanza also killed his mother at the home they shared in Newtown before the school shootings, which ended when Lanza fatally shot himself as police arrived.

Police haven't released any details about a motive.

Numerous police officers were on guard the outside of the Monroe school, which is about 11 kilometres from the old school, and told reporters to stay away.

Asked about the level of security at the new school, Monroe police officer Keith White said, "I think right now it has to be the safest school in America."

Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe declined to answer questions about the investigation.

Teachers attended staff meetings at the new school on Wednesday morning and were visited by Governor Dannel  Malloy before the open house, White said.

Robinson said Chalk Hill School has been transformed into a "cheerful" place for the surviving students to resume normal school routines. She said mental health counsellors continue to be available for anyone who needs them.

"They're so excited to see the teachers," Robinson said about the open house attendees.

Several signs welcoming the Sandy Hook students to their new school were posted along the road leading to the school in a rural, mostly residential neighbourhood. One said "Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary Kids," while a similar sign added "You are in our prayers."

Teams of workers, many of them volunteers, prepared the Chalk Hill school with fresh paint and new furniture and even raised bathroom floors so the smaller elementary school students can reach the toilets.

The students' desks, backpacks and other belongings that were left behind following the shooting were taken to the new school to make them feel at home.

Counsellors say it's important for children to get back to a normal routine and for teachers and parents to offer sensitive reassurances.

When classes start, Robinson said teachers will try to make it as normal a school day as possible for the children.

"We want to get back to teaching and learning," she said. "We will obviously take time out from the academics for any conversations that need to take place, and there will be a lot of support there. All in all, we want the kids to reconnect with their friends and classroom teachers, and I think that's going to be the healthiest thing."

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Connecticut shooting: Funerals
A boy holds on to a man's coat while they hug at a makeshift memorial.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
A hearse carrying the casket of six-year-old Jack Pinto is driven to the Newtown Village Cemetery during his funeral service in Newtown, Connecticut.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
A Connecticut State Police Officer stands at an intersection in Newtown, Connecticut.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
Mourners leave Honan Funeral Home in Newtown, Connecticut, after attending a funeral service for six-year-old Jack Pinto.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
Mourners leave Honan Funeral Home in Newtown, Connecticut, after attending a funeral service for six-year-old Jack Pinto.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
A hearse carrying the casket of six-year-old Jack Pinto is driven to the Newtown Village Cemetery during his funeral service in Newtown, Connecticut.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
Students and adults embrace as they wait to enter Honan Funeral Home, where the family of six-year-old Jack Pinto were holding his funeral service, in Newtown, Connecticut.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
A boy waits to enter Honan Funeral Home, where the family of six-year-old Jack Pinto were holding his funeral service, in Newtown.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
Mourners leave Honan Funeral Home in Newtown, Connecticut, after attending a funeral service for six-year-old Jack Pinto.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
The victims of the massacre, top row, from left: Ana Marquez-Greene, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Emilie Parker, Noah Pozner. Second row: Jesse Lewis, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Charlotte Bacon, Chase Kowalski. Third row: Daniel Barden, Jack Pinto, Catherine Hubbard, Dylan Hockley, Benjamin Wheeler. Fourth row: Grace McDonnell, James Mattioli, Avielle Richman, Rachel Davino, Anne Marie Murphy. Fifth row: Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Dawn Hochsprung, Nancy Lanza.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
Women hang balloons outside the Abraham L. Green & Sons Funeral Home, where Sandy Hook Elementary school victim Noah Pozner's funeral will be held, in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
A woman grieves after visiting a memorial for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
Connecticut shooting: Funerals
Mourners leave Honan Funeral Home in Newtown, Connecticut, after attending a funeral service for six-year-old Jack Pinto.
sANDY HOOK
MOVING ON: Signs of support along the road between Newtown and Monroe, where the kids from Sandy Hook Elementary will attend a new school.
sANDY HOOK
MOVING ON: Signs of support along the road between Newtown and Monroe, where the kids from Sandy Hook Elementary will attend a new school.

AP