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Sandy Hook Elementary students, staff return to school after shootings

Angel wings and balloons at a makeshift shrine outside Sandy Hook Elementary.
Angel wings and balloons at a makeshift shrine outside Sandy Hook Elementary.
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Hoping that they have done their best to create "a safe and a secure learning environment for these kids," school officials in Connecticut are today welcoming the 500 or so surviving students from Sandy Hook Elementary School and their teachers back to class.

It's the first "normal" day for them since Dec. 14, when a gunman forced his way into their school in Newtown. Before killing himself, 20-year-old Adam Lanza mortally wounded 20 first-graders and six educators.

We put quotation marks around the word normal, of course, because it's a lot to ask for a day such as this to be like any other day.

The students will be going to a school called Sandy Hook Elementary, but it's not the building they were in a month ago. Instead, they're going to class at what was an unused school in the town of Monroe, about seven miles away.

Wednesday, as The Newtown Bee reports, parents, children and staff were able to visit the building. Monroe Police Department Lieutenant Keith White (who spoke about the "safe and secure learning environment") told the newspaper visitors to the school will be stopped and interviewed by a police officer, and that there are "multiple security options in place" (the newspaper's words, not White's).

The Hartford Courant adds that "police would not say what safety and security measures are being taken at Sandy Hook in Monroe, but [Newtown Superintendent Janet] Robinson said the school 'feels extremely secure.' "

A Sandy Hook parent, Sarah Caron, writes in The New Haven Register that:

"As I pulled into the driveway of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School at the former Chalk Hill middle school Wednesday, a Monroe policeman flagged me to stop and asked to see my license. A few yards ahead, I had to show it again.

"Handing it over for the second time, I wiped the stray tears from my cheeks. Though my children couldn't see from the back seat, I cried silently driving the distance from our Sandy Hook home to their new school.

"While I have moved ahead in many ways, going back to school remains a serious emotional hurdle for us to overcome."

The school officially opens at 9:07 a.m. ET. On its website, principal Donna Page writes that:

"I want parents and families enduring the loss of their precious children to know their loved ones are foremost in our hearts and minds as we move forward. We recognize your needs are paramount in our preparations and planning. Your strength and compassion has been, and will continue to be an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff."

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