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US school survivors head back to class

The children who escaped last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut are returning to classes on Thursday at a refurbished school renamed after their old one, school officials said Wednesday.

School officials are preparing for droves of anxious parents to join the fleet of buses carting children to a disused middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Chalk Hill Middle School, closed about a year-and-a-half ago, has been hastily refurbished in the three weeks since the December 14 attack and renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School.


Back to school: Amid much fear and worry, a Sandy Hook Elementary student flashes a peace sign as children leave on a bus for school. Pic/AFP

With their children’s safety foremost on parents’ and officials’ minds in the wake of the second-deadliest school shooting in US history, the school has been outfitted with a new security system. Monroe Police Department officers will patrol the grounds, and all outside doorways and sidewalks will be under surveillance.

“I think right now we have to make this the safest school in America,” said Monroe Police Lieutenant Keith White. Parents wishing to remain with their kids will be allowed to accompany them to their classrooms and afterwards may stay in the school for as long as they like.

ts and parents at the new school. “I’m not sure I’m ready yet to totally let them go,” said Sandy Hook parent Sarah Swansiger.

When the students return they will be welcomed to a building that has been decked out as a Winter Wonderland with the help of thousands of kids from around the world.

“This does not look like the other elementary school,” Newtown School Superintendent Janet Robinson said emphatically.

In the meantime, no new details have emerged to explain why 20-year-old Lanza targeted the school. Police have offered no firm motive for the attack yet.  

Theatre invite upsets Aurora victims’ families
Family members of nine of the victims from July’s movie theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado, are furious over what they call “ridiculously offensive” e-mail invitations to a memorial event to re-open the theatre. The theatre’s parent company, Cinemark, says it intends to re-open the theatre on January 17. But the families wrote in a letter that the invitations were badly timed and a “thinly veiled publicity ploy”. “None of us received a letter of condolence or any other communication from Cinemark, but now they want us to step foot in that theatre,” the mother of one victim said. 

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