NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Education officials in Newtown are considering a proposal to send the students from Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scene of a deadly shooting rampage, to an empty school in nearby Monroe.

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told The Associated Press on Sunday that state construction services personnel are advising the towns on renovating the building for the students, grades kindergarten through four. He said the towns are “still discussing and determining” when the Sandy Hook students could begin classes in the new site.

He said district officials were discussing the possibility that students from other Newtown schools could return this week. There were no classes on Monday, due to the tragedy.

“These are the toughest of times. The district and school-level personnel of Newtown are getting through it with difficulty but also with grace. Every single step is a tough one,” he said, adding how decisions are being made “on an hour-by-hour basis.”

The Monroe Courier reported that Monroe’s former Chalk Hill School is under consideration as a new facility for the Sandy Hook students. It has not been used as a school since June 2011.

Pryor attended a meeting of the Sandy Hook staff on Sunday, the first since Friday’s shooting, he said. Meetings were also organized on Sunday by the Connecticut chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. National AFT President Randi Weingarten was on hand to meet with union members. AFT represents teachers, clerical and custodial staff in the Newtown Public Schools.

Pryor said it is “too soon to know” if the Sandy Hook school building will ever reopen, after a gunman shot and killed 27 people, including 20 students.

“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.

The state Departments of Children and Families and Mental Health and Addiction Services are working closely with the Newtown school district, providing counseling services for the staff and also helping to prepare them for the students when they return to class, Pryor said. Eric Bailey, an AFT spokesman, said the union is working to supplement the counseling, to make sure help will be available to staff down the road.

“This is going to take a long time for the healing process to work its way through,” Bailey said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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