The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 17, 2012

Newtown plans funerals as school's future debated

(Continued)

Jim Agostine, superintendent of schools in nearby Monroe, said plans were being made for students from Sandy Hook to attend classes in his town this week.

Newtown police Lt. George Sinko said he "would find it very difficult" for students to return to the same school where they came so close to death. But, he added, "We want to keep these kids together. They need to support each other."

Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said state construction employees are advising on renovating Sandy Hook, which serves grades kindergarten through four.

It wasn't just Newtown that was concerned about the next steps for its schoolchildren. Across the country, vigilance was expected to be high. In an effort to ensure student safety and calm parents' nerves, districts have asked police departments to increase patrols and have sent messages to parents outlining safety plans they assured them are regularly reviewed and rehearsed.

Teachers girded themselves to be strong for their students and for questions and fears they would face in the classroom.

"It's going to be a tough day," said Richard Cantlupe, an American history teacher at Westglades Middle School in Parkland, Fla. "This was like our 9/11 for schoolteachers."

Authorities say the gunman shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home and then took her car and several of her guns to the school, where he broke in and shot his victims to death, then himself. A Connecticut official said the mother was found dead in her pajamas in bed, shot four times in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.

During his later rampage, terrified staffers at the school stayed hidden for hours, not knowing how many shooters there were.

Federal agents have concluded that Lanza visited an area shooting range, but they do not know whether he actually practiced shooting there. Ginger Colbrun, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, would not identify the range or say how recently he was there.

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