Students from Sandy Hook Elementary School will resume classes Jan. 2 in Monroe, Conn., at the former Chalk Hill Middle School, which is being readied this week. It was mothballed in 2011 when a new school opened next door.
(Photo: Don Emmert, AFP/Getty Images)
Oren Dorell and Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Although other Newtown, Conn., public schools reopened Tuesday, Sandy Hook's students will resume classes after New Year's in a nearby town, the superintendent confirmed.
Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said classes would commence Jan. 2 at the former Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, about 8 miles away. The two-story building has been empty since a new middle school opened next door last year.
Newtown school officials had initially planned to resume classes at Chalk Hill on Wednesday, but they ran into resistance from teachers, Robinson said.
"The teachers weren't ready, the building wasn't ready. So we just abandoned that idea," she said. "That plan was too ambitious."
Instead, teachers are inviting parents and pupils to visit their temporary new school this week while it is being painted and refurnished with the contents of Sandy Hook classrooms and furniture provided by other schools, Robinson said.
"We're in the process of putting the finishing touches on that school," Robinson said. "It's been in mothballs for a year."
In a letter to parents, Robinson wrote, "We need to tend to our teachers' and students' needs to feel comfortable after this trauma in this new place." She told parents that teachers may call "to invite you to visit Chalk Hill with your child this week to walk around and see the classroom and get familiar with this new Sandy Hook home."
Some Monroe town offices and a day care center have occupied the old Chalk Hill school since students vacated it in 2011.
"We are overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness our neighbors in Monroe have shown us," Robinson said in a news release Tuesday. "Not only are they lending us the space for the school, but they are also working side-by-side with us to ready the building for occupancy. As Newtown residents and staff pull together to support one another, we are ever so grateful to have friends and neighbors in Monroe who we can rely on."
Before Friday's massacre, Dec. 21 was to have been the last day for Sandy Hook's 450 kindergarten-through-fourth-grade students before the holiday break. Five of Newtown's six other public schools, which have about 4,700 students, resumed classes Tuesday and will halt Friday for Christmas and New Year's.
One elementary school was kept closed because of an undisclosed threat.
At a Sunday night meeting, a psychologist and other Newton school officials stressed the importance of children and the community getting back to normal and returning to school as soon as possible. Angry teachers balked, including some who said they were too traumatized or unsure whether they wanted to resume their teaching careers.
Contributing: Gary Stoller