(Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)
Three weeks after the shooting tragedy on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., children from Sandy Hook Elementary School have returned to classes at a new location, which police have dubbed "the safest in America."
"We will go to our regular schedule," Newtown Superintendent Janet Robinson said, according to Fox News. "We will be doing a normal day."
The children from Sandy Hook Elementary will be attending a refurbished school in the neighboring town of Monroe, which has been given the same name as their old one in Newtown, which is still being treated as a crime scene.
The tragedy on Dec. 14 saw 20-year-old Adam Lanza shoot dead his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their nearby home in Newtown before he drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 26 people, including 20 children, the school's principal and five other staff members. He turned the gun on himself before police arrived, ending one of the most disturbing mass-shooting incidents in America's history.
Families of the victims and all those affected by the tragedy have been receiving support from people all around the country, including President Barack Obama, and after a somber New Year's they are trying to return to some form of normality. The new school in Monroe welcomed students and their families on Wednesday at an open house, where children received gift boxes with toys and were reunited with some of their teachers.
"I'm not worried about her going back," said one father about his daughter, Cynthia. "The fear kind of kicks back in a little bit, but we're very excited for her and we got to see many, many kids today. The atmosphere was very cheerful."
Some of the extra security measures being taken include stopping every vehicle that enters the school grounds, BBC News reported.
"I think right now it has to be the safest school in America," said Monroe Police Department's Lieutenant Keith White. Acting principal Donna Page, who took over from Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the shooting, assured parents that the school was "safe, secure and fully operational."
Parents are being allowed to stay in the building on Thursday at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, Page added, but noted that the school is encouraging students to start taking the bus to school again in order to "return to familiar routines as soon as possible."
In a heartfelt message to students and parents facing the first day of school since the attack, Page writes on Sandy Hook Elementary's official website:
"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."