Sandy Hook Elementary To Stay Closed Till January

By: From CNN
By: From CNN

NEWTOWN, Connecticut (CNN) -- Attendance was taken at schools across this devastated town on Tuesday as most students returned to the classroom for the first time since the deadly school shooting.

Not everyone was there.

Sandy Hook Elementary students won't resume classes until January, and victims of last week's massacre will never return.

Jessica Rekos and James Mattioli, both 6, were laid to rest Tuesday, while the families of Charlotte Bacon, 6, Daniel Barden, 7, and Victoria "Vicki" Soto, 27, held calling hours, or visitations, for their lost loved ones.

The teacher and children were among the 27 people killed when gunman Adam Lanza shot his mother and then went to the Sandy Hook, indiscriminately opening fire on staff and young students. The rampage reignited a debate about guns in America and sent shock waves through a nation that has seen mass killings before -- but not like this.

"She had an answer for everything, she didn't miss a trick, and she outsmarted us every time. We called her our little CEO for the way she carefully thought out and planned everything," the family of Jessica said about their little girl, who loved horses and asked Santa for a cowgirl hat this year.

"We can not imagine our life without her," they said.

James liked to remind everyone that he was 6 and three-quarters. "He would often sing at the top of his lungs, and once asked, 'How old do I have to be to sing on a stage?'" his family wrote in an obituary.

In an online posting about his funeral, the Mattioli family called James "our beloved prince."

Across town, hearses could be seen traveling along roads with police escorts. Onlookers cried as they drove past. Unlike students at other schools who returned Tuesday, Sandy Hook students are not expected to go back until January.

Their school is a crime scene. The current plan is for them to resume classes next year at the former Chalk Hill Middle School, eight miles away in neighboring Monroe, Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said in a letter to parents.

"We need to tend to our teachers' and students' needs to feel comfortable after this trauma in this new place," she wrote.

Teachers may call parents "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."

At other schools, students went back to class with their sense of normalcy shattered. They were met by police, counselors and teachers, who all face a tremendous burden.

How do they explain to children what happened? How do they help make them feel safe?

David Schonfeld, a crisis counselor who gave a presentation to Newtown teachers about how to talk to students, said they have to meet children where they are.

"I told them that as far as I was concerned, there was really only one lesson plan that they needed to teach before they broke for the (holidays), and that was to make sure that the children knew that they were safe and that they cared about them and they were going to care for them," he said.

The teachers' union said classes would discuss the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner. Investigators have so far been unable to retrieve data from a computer taken from the home of the gunman, Adam Lanza, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

It appears Lanza smashed the computer, extensively damaging the hard drive, the official said, adding that the FBI is assisting Connecticut State Police in trying to retrieve data from the computer.

Lanza's mother was shot four times in the head while she slept in her bed, said Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver, also Tuesday.

Adam Lanza killed himself with a shot to the front of his head from a handgun, the medical examiner said.

Toxicology tests are under way to determine whether Adam Lanza had taken medication.

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