(NEW YORK) — Connecticut school officials’ plan to get survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting back together at a new school is exactly the right decision, says a youth trauma psychologist.
Authorities announced on Monday that the Newtown, Conn., elementary school where 26 people, including 20 children, were gunned down, will be closed “indefinitely,” but Sandy Hook students and staff could be back in classes at nearby Chalk Hill School in Monroe, Conn., by this week.
“It’s a good idea that kids go back to school as soon as possible and normalize and get…accustomed to a routine,” said psychologist Susan Lipkins. “You want to make it as familiar and easy as possible so the transition is as smooth as possible for teachers, faculty and the children.”
Most children do not understand death; they understand that their parents and teachers are upset and draw on those emotions, Lipkins said. She believes it was the right decision to have the students return to classes, especially before the Christmas break, because it will help them adapt to the new situation.
“If they didn’t have school this week that really would give the children too much time to get accustomed to being at home…and it would increase their likelihood of developing phobias,” she said.
Lipkins also agreed with the decision to have Sandy Hook remain closed because going back to the scene of the massacre would have been “too traumatic” for everyone.
“I think that the scene is too extreme and that it would be very hard to erase the memories,” Lipkins said. “It’s really good for everybody to have their normal routine but to have those physical manifestations would make it probably more stressful.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
AJ Willingham, CNN
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com
Alanna Petroff, CNN
Tal Kopan and Jeremy Diamond, CNN