Amidst anonymous threats and recent shootings in other states, students in Newtown will learn from home Tuesday, the ninth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, according to the school district.
Dec. 14 marks the ninth year since 20 children and six educators who were murdered by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. In a letter to students, families, and staff, the town’s superintendent of schools Lorrie Rodrigue said the always-difficult anniversary is often made harder by anonymous calls and threats which serve to raise stress levels in the communities.
This year, the town’s board of education approved a plan to make the anniversary Newtown’s first remote learning day of 2021. In the letter, Rodrigue pointed to the stress of recent threats across the state as well as the Nov. 30 school shooting in Michigan.
“Three years ago, we evacuated Sandy Hook School due to a threatening call to the main office. Anonymous threats add to the level of anxiety, and our goal this year is to minimize the level of stress on students, parents, and staff given the current climate,” the superintendent wrote.
Rodrigue said school administrators will use age-appropriate messaging to explain the change to students. For younger children, the remote learning day will be a refresher in case snow forces closures later in the school year. Older students will still observe a moment of silence and be told the change was made to avoid possible disruptions to education.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of 12.14. We know this is a very emotional time of year, and we hope that moving to a remote learning day will relieve some of the anxiety and stress that often accompanies this day,” Rodrigue wrote.
The remote day of school is part of a larger remembrance on Dec. 14 in Newtown involving church services and a moment of silence in the morning at municipal buildings.
There will be masses to remember the victims of the shooting at 6:45 a.m., 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. at St. Rose of Lima Church. An annual interfaith service of remembrance is planned from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church.
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal stood outside the state Capitol Monday to remember the lives lost and to call for tough gun control at the federal level.
“We choose to have the world’s weakest gun laws, we choose to allow for these dangerous weapons of mass destruction to get into the hands of would-be killers,” Murphy said. “This is all a choice and we can make a different choice.”
Murphy said Connecticut has changed its gun laws since the shooting and in 2020, 42 bills passed in 13 states tightening state gun laws.
“We have seen more anti-violence gun initiatives passed in the last five years than in any other period of time in our lifetime. That means that change is on its way,” Murphy said. “But it will reach Washington DC.
He said included in Build Back Better bill is $5 billion investment in anti-gun violence programming.
“That’s progress,” Murphy said.
He said he’s optimistic the bill will pass within weeks.
“I think we are building a movement. We are moving forward,” Blumenthal said. “I felt there was an inflection point then.”
Blumenthal said he thinks they are making progress on strengthening gun storage laws and red flag laws.