The surviving children at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut are getting ready to head back to school Thursday.
Since escaping the massacre at their elementary school, children in Newtown have suffered nightmares, jumped at noises and clung to the sides of their parents more than usual.
The parents of the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School are bracing to send their children back to the school where three weeks ago a shooting rampage killing 20 children, and six adults.
“I’m nervous about it,” parent of a child who attends Sandy Hook Elementary School, David Connors, told the Associated Press. “It’s unchartered waters for us. I know it’s going to be difficult.”
The students who would regularly attend Sandy Hook are expected to attend school in the neighbouring town of Monroe, where the student’s desks have been taken along with backpacks and other belongings that were left behind in the chaos following the shooting on Dec. 14.
Families have taken their children to the new school to familiarize the children with the school, and an open house is scheduled for Wednesday.
An army of workers has been getting the school ready, painting, moving furniture and even raising the floors in the bathrooms of the former middle school so the smaller elementary school students can reach the toilets.
Connors, a 40-year-old engineer, felt reassured after recently visiting the new setup at the former Chalk Hill school in Monroe.
He said his children were excited to see their backpacks and coats, and that the family was greeted by a police officer at the door and grief counselors in the hallways.
Teachers will try to make it as normal a school day as possible for the children, schools Superintendent Janet Robinson said.
“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.”
Teachers are returning as well, and some have already been working on their classrooms.
At some point, all those will be honored, but officials are still working out how and when to do so, Robinson said.
“Everyone was part and parcel of getting as many kids out of there safely as they could,” she said. “Almost everybody did something to save kids.”
Connors, the father of children who attend the Sandy Hook elementary school said his children are excited to go back to school but predicted they might be nervous as the first day approaches.
“It’s going to be a long road back,” Connors said. “Back to what I guess is the biggest question. Everyone keeps throwing that word around the new normal. What does the new normal look like? I think everybody kind of has to define that for themselves.”