Sandy Hook Shooting Survivors Should Be in School, Need 'Routine,' Psychologist Says

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Columbine, Virginia Tech's Norris Hall Reopened After Mass Shootings

"We definitely, at the very least, want to give the children the opportunity to see their new school and become as comfortable as they possibly can in a new area," Debbie Leidlein of the Newtown Board of Education told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.

While the next chapter for Sandy Hook will be in a new facility, other schools that have experienced the pain and grief of a mass shooting chose to reopen.

It took nearly four months for Columbine High School to reopen after seniors Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, went on a deadly shooting rampage that killed 12 of their fellow classmates and a teacher, and wounded 23 others, before committing suicide.

After surviving what was then the most fatal school shooting in recent history, Littleton, Colo., students cheered "We are Columbine" over and over at a "Take Back the School" rally as they walked through the doors of Columbine High School on Aug. 17, 1999, to kick off a new school year.

At Virginia Tech, where senior Seung-Hui Cho went on a shooting spree on April 16, 2007, inside Norris Hall, there was much discussion over what to do with the three-story engineering building where 30 people were slain. Suggestions ranged from fully reopening all classrooms to turning it into a memorial to demolishing it entirely.

In the end, university officials at first decided to close the west wing classrooms where the shootings took place forever. But then the building went through extensive renovations and the wing was gradually reopened as the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics and the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention offices and laboratories.

Whether the victims of a mass school shooting are in elementary school, high school or college, Lipkins said every person reacts differently to trauma. The Columbine students, for example, might have had flashbacks and increased anxiety after returning to the same hallways where their classmates had been gunned down, she said.

"All students are at risk for all kinds of symptoms of stress, probably not sleeping, stomachaches, headaches," she said. "This will go on for a little while, and it's normal."

As for the Sandy Hook students, Lipkins said some might have anxiety and stress reactions, including being too frightened to leave their parents' side, while others might want to be out on the playground. Either way, it's important for adults, whom they turn to for emotional guidance, to get them back into a routine.

"It will be difficult," Lipkins said. "But the sooner they do it, the easier it will be."

How to Help Sandy Hook Victims' Families and Communities

ABC's Anthony Castellano, Josh Haskell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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