Police: Newtown School Closed ‘Indefinitely’ As Investigation Continues
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NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – There were no classes Monday at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. and officials aren’t sure if the school will ever reopen.
Three days after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults there, state police Lt. Paul Vance said that it could be months before police turn the school back over to the district.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports
“We are holding both crime scenes, the school and a secondary crime scene, indefinitely,” Vance said at a news conference Monday in Newtown. “I don’t know how long that will be — I am suspecting months.”
Newtown’s other schools were to reopen Tuesday.
The district made plans to send surviving Sandy Hook students to a former school building in neighboring Monroe.
The Chalk Hill School should be ready “in a matter of days,” Monroe fire marshal William Davin said Monday.
Davin said that he toured the facility with state and local fire and building officials and that contractors are in the process making necessary repairs. The facility could be ready as early as Tuesday, though officials stressed no date has been set.
Crews have been working around the clock to ready the building and update the schools security and fire systems.
The Sandy Hook students’ desks are being taken to Chalk Hill, and tradesmen are donating their services to ensure the building is ready, said Lt. Brian McCauley of the Monroe Police Department.
“The Sandy Hook school furniture from what I understand is going to be moved down so it will be age and height and weight appropriate,” said McCauley.
A number of officers will be at the school when it opens and police will be checking IDs, answering questions and trying to instill a feeling of confidence, McCauley said.
“We are working to try to bring back some normalcy,” McCauley said. “These are innocent children that need to be put on the right path again.”
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports
The Chalk Hill School was closed about a year and a half ago due to declining enrollment, McCauley said.
“It has not been offline that long and right now that’s what the workers are doing to update it and make it safe,” he told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said it is “too soon to know” if the Sandy Hook school building will ever reopen.
“That’s a decision the district will need to make and I know that the subject has arisen and it’s been discussed and debated already, but I’m sure they have not made a decision,” he said.
In remains to be determined when classes will resume for students of Sandy Hook Elementary.
As officials decide on the fate of the school, the doors were open at a local youth academy to help children cope with the tragedy.
Parents clutching their children’s hands arrived at the Newtown Youth Academy for a day of activities.
“We have two wings,” direct Peter D’Amico said. “One is a field house, the other is a turf field, we have some inflatables, we have basketball going on, we have tennis going on, soccer and all the activities that the kids would enjoy.”
Parents said a little enjoyment will go a long way for their children who have been through so much.
“It’s exactly what the kids need after such a terrible tragedy,” father Stuart Hall said. “A lot of them know what’s going on and they need somewhere to get their thoughts back to the fun stuff.”
A group of students from the University of New Haven also volunteered to help the grieving community.
“We just want to do what we can to help these kids cope,” sophomore David Johnson said. “We’re going to play some games, talk to them, try to get their minds off of what happened.”
The first funerals were held Monday for two of the children who were killed — six-year-olds Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner. Others are scheduled for later in the week.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)