Connecticut survivors to attend school in neighboring town

Posted at 12/17/2012 9:58 AM | Updated as of 12/17/2012 10:12 AM

NEWTOWN, Conn. - The children who survived Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School will not have to return to the scene of the massacre and will attend classes in a neighboring Connecticut town when school reopens, officials said on Sunday.

It remains unclear when Sandy Hook's 436 surviving students will return to class, but when they do, it will be in an unused school about 7 miles (11 km) to the south in Monroe, Newtown School Superintendent Janet Robinson said.

"The Town of Monroe has graciously offered their Chalk Hill School," Robinson said in a statement. "This facility, which is currently not being used, is in excellent condition and will accommodate all of the Sandy Hook School students and staff.

"It is located just across the border from Newtown and should be ready for occupancy in just a few days."

On Sunday, just two days after 26 people were gunned down at the school, Newtown residents debated whether the school could ever be used again.

"At this time it's too early to say. But I would find it very difficult for them to do that. Certainly, that's one of the things they're going to have to look into," said Lieutenant George Sinko of the Newtown police.

"I have a kindergartner. I don't know how I would send my kids back there," said Carina Bandhaver, 43, a professor at Western Connecticut State University who attended Mass in Sandy Hook.

All seven of Newtown's public schools, which serve more than 5,100 students, as well as private schools in the district, will be closed on Monday, school officials said.

Sandy Hook, the town's largest elementary school, serving 5- to 10-year-olds in kindergarten through fourth grade, remains an active crime scene.

Resident Tim Northrop said he hopes the school reopens someday.

"They'll have to think about how they reconfigure some of the space and change the environment a little bit, but I think if we abandon that school, then the lunatics win," said Northrop, whose two children went to the school.

"I think we have to go back into that building at some point. That's how you heal. It doesn't have to be immediately but I sure wouldn't want to give up on it."

Twenty Sandy Hook first-graders were killed on Friday when 20-year-old Adam Lanza armed with an assault weapon and two hand guns shot his way into the school and opened fire.

Six adults, including the school principal, were also killed at the school. Lanza killed his mother and himself for a death toll of 28 people.

Instead of school on Monday, town officials said children would be able to attend a day of recreational activities hosted by local sports organizations at the Newtown Youth Academy, a private athletic facility in town.

All schools in the town other than Sandy Hook Elementary School will reopen on Tuesday.