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Sandy Hook students will relocate to Monroe

Updated 3:12 am, Monday, December 17, 2012
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NEWTOWN -- When Sandy Hook Elementary School students return to classes, it will not be in the building where 20 of their classmates and six staffers were killed in a rampage Friday.

Superintendent Janet Robinson announced Sunday that Sandy Hook students and staff will be relocated to Chalk Hill School in Monroe.

"It is located just across the border from Newtown and should be ready for occupancy in just a few days," Robinson wrote in an email. "We will be able to publish the exact date shortly."

Counseling will be available Sunday and Monday in two Newtown locations for students and adults as they deal with shootings in which a gunman killed 20 students and six staff as well as his mother and himself. Reed Intermediate School is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday to provide counseling and the Newtown Youth & Family Services Inc. is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday for emergency counseling at its office at 15 Berkshire Road. At both locations, walk-ins are welcome.

"Schools will not open Monday, because my staff wanted a little more time,'' Robinson said. "On Monday, the staff will come in. We have received so much assistance, it's been wonderful. There will be training for our counselors as well as sessions with our staff about how to help kids get through this awful event."

Tuesday will be a regular day for staff and students at Hawley, Middle Gate and Head O'Meadow elementary schools as well as Reed Intermediate and Newtown middle and high schools, Robinson said.

Additionally, an Interfaith service in the Newtown High School Auditorium is to be held at 7 p.m. Sunday

School officials in the area have made plans to try to help students deal with the tragedy. Danbury and Bethel school districts plan to have a police presence at all of their schools Monday.

The aim is to provide a reassurance of safeness for the children who will return after a weekend of being barraged with details of the shooting, Bethel Superintendent Kevin Smith said Saturday.

"Most of our kids were in lockdown Friday and didn't have the awareness of what happened and they will have had 48 hours of the news," Smith said.

On Saturday, Smith said staff from each school worked together to create guidelines for teachers about how to talk with students.

"This is not a local issue," Smith said. The education communities overlap from town to town. "We need to reassure our kids and parents that our kids are safe."

School officials from Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield, Brookfield, New Milford and Ridgefield also posted on their websites or sent home guidelines about how parents could talk to their children about the shootings.

Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the shootings, served as an assistant principal for six years in Danbury and her husband, George, teaches at Rogers Park Middle School.

Danbury High School graduate Lauren Rousseau was killed at Sandy Hook, where she was serving this year as a permanent substitute teacher.

"We will also hold a conference call Sunday night with all our principals and police to discuss the week," Danbury Superintendent of Schools Sal Pascarella said. He said he expects staff will be asked to meet before school Monday to review plans for their schools.

"We will have support teams deployed at all the buildings with an emphasis on Rogers Park Middle School," Pascarella said.

Pascarella called a special school board meeting Thursday night to discuss school safety in the district with city officials. He said he wants to analyze school safety plans that are in place and determine if they need to be revise.

eileenf@newstimes.com; 203-731-3333