New locks as Newtown students return
(CNN) — As Sandy Hook Elementary School students returned to class Thursday for the first time since last month’s massacre, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy set a two-month deadline for a commission to address the state’s gun laws, mental health policies and public security issues.
“We don’t know the underlying cause of this tragedy, and we probably never will,” said Malloy, who added that that is “no reason for inaction.”
Malloy appointed Hamden, Connecticut, Mayor Scott Jackson to lead a special advisory commission and set a March 15 deadline for an initial report that is expected to be addressed during the next legislative session.
“We can work together to make our state a model for the rest of the nation,” said Malloy, who also called on Congress to enact stricter national gun control laws.
The move comes just weeks after a gunman killed 26 people at the Newtown elementary school, including 20 children, ages 6 and 7.
The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also killed his mother before breaking into the school with an AR-15 assault rifle.
On Thursday, Sandy Hook parents accompanied their children to an emotional first day back in school.
“There was a little bit of anxiety, but everybody was happy to be back in the swing of things,” said Sarah Swansiger, the mother of a kindergarten student.
Students from Sandy Hook attended Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby town of Monroe because the Sandy Hook building remains part of an active investigation.
Newtown Public Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson has said that part of the Chalk Hill building had been transformed to resemble an elementary school and that security had also been increased, incorporating an upgraded system of new cameras and locks.
“(We want) to have as much (of) a normal routine as possible,” said Robinson. “(Thursday) is a regular schedule, and we will do the kinds of things that we know are good for kids.”
Counselors were also on hand to help parents, students, teachers and administrators in coping with the emotional toll of returning to class.
Swansiger said that while there were “some emotional moments in the beginning of the day … you couldn’t walk around the corner without someone asking if you were OK.”