The schools of Newtown, which stood empty in the wake of a shooting rampage that took 26 of their own, will again ring with the sounds of students and teachers on Tuesday as the bucolic Connecticut town struggles to return to normal.
But among the normal sounds of a school day - teachers reading to children, the scratch of pencil on paper - students will hear new ones, including the murmur of grief counselors and the footsteps of police officers.
Four days after 20-year-old Adam Lanza strode into Sandy Hook Elementary school and gunned down a score of 6- and 7-year-olds, in addition to six faculty and staff, that school will remain closed. It is an active crime scene, with police coming and going past a line of 26 Christmas trees that visitors have decorated with ornaments, stuffed animals and balloons in the school colors of green and white as a memorial to the victims.
The massacre - one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history - shocked Americans, prompting some lawmakers to call for tighter restrictions on guns and causing school administrators around the country to assess their safety protocols.
Newtown police plan to have officers at the six schools scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, trying to offer a sense of security to the students and faculty, many of whom spent the weekend in mourning. Newtown Police Lieutenant George Sinko acknowledged it may be difficult to ease the worries of the roughly 4,700 returning students and their families.
“Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of apprehension. We just had a horrific tragedy. We had babies sent to school that should be safe and they weren’t,” Sinko said. “You can’t help but think … if this could happen again.”
DAY FOR ‘HEALING’
Newtown High School Principal Charles Dumais, in an e-mail to parents, said schools in the district would open two hours later than usual, with counselors available to students and their families.