By Ashleigh Costello
MONROE, Conn. – The surviving students of Sandy Hook Elementary School will resume classes in January at a vacant middle school in a neighboring town, school officials say.
Newtown Superintendent Janet Robinson said the school would reopen Jan. 2 at the former Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, just six miles from the original Sandy Hook school in Newtown.
Teachers and school officials have been working around the clock to recreate the school down to the smallest detail for when the students return, reports the Alaska Dispatch. Desks and pictures will be rearranged to the same spots as before and the walls will be painted similar colors.
“Once they get into the classroom, it’s going to look as close to the old classroom as possible,” Monroe First Selectman Stephen Vavrek said Wednesday.
Psychologists have said the idea is to help students feel at home and to return to a sense of normalcy.
Former Sandy Hook Principal Donna Page is coming out of retirement to help with the transition to the new building and take over for slain principal Dawn Hochsprung until a replacement can be found.
Chalk Hill has been unoccupied since 2011 due to declining enrollment. As the new Sandy Hook, it will be governed by the Newtown school district, Vavrek told reporters.
In the days after the mass shooting, parents were unsure where their children would be relocated for classes. Early reports suggested the remaining students would be scattered to various schools. Vavrek said parents were relieved at the offer to use the vacant building and keep the kids together.
Long-term plans for the original Sandy Hook school remain unclear, reports the news site. Some have suggested the building be demolished.
“The teachers and the parents have been telling me they can never reenter that school,” Robinson told reporters earlier this week.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy requested a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. statewide Friday morning to mark the approximate time the shootings began last week. Churches and government buildings with bells rang them 26 times to honor the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary.
“We have to move forward,” Robinson told reporters. “It is good for kids to know that we are strong and that as a community we support them.”
The other schools in Newtown reopened Tuesday, with counselors on hand for extra support.