Students from Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman massacred 27 people last month, will return to school Thursday in a nearby building that has been designed to directly mirror the old one they were forced to flee.
The new school building in the neighboring city of Monroe has been specifically designed to replicate the old school building in an effort to help the surviving children cope with the tragedy and return to a routine after three weeks of mourning.
“There’s certainly going to be children that are scared,” Thalia Andernen, a counselor with The Center of Hope, a non-profit family support center, told NBC New York.
“They're going to be frightened and feel very insecure about going back, but a lot of them are going to be resilient.”
The children have not been in school since the Dec. 14 rampage, when 20-year old Adam Lanza went on a shooting spree, killing 20 first grade students and 6 adults, before committing suicide.
In a message to parents on the school website, acting principal Donna Page, who replaced the slain school head Dawn Hochsprung, insisted that "the facility is safe, secure and fully operational."
Page said parents would be allowed to stay with their children when the school opens for classes on Thursday, to provide them with necessary reassurance.
"We understand many parents may need to be near their children on their first day(s) of school and you will be welcome. That being said, we encourage students to take the bus to school in order to help them return to familiar routines as soon as possible," she wrote.
The killer was laid to rest over the weekend after his father claimed his body for burial last week, a family spokesman said.
Lanza's mother, whom he shot at their home just prior to the school massacre, was buried in New Hampshire last month.