— Parents throughout the state said they struggled with a flood of emotions Monday as they brought their students to school or watched them get on the bus.
Dawn Mendoza of Middlefield, the parent of an intermediate school student and an elementary school student, stood with her older daughter at a bus stop Monday morning like she has done since she started school. But this morning was different.
"Dropping her off today, I'm going to be like, 'Do I want to leave her?'" she said. "But we need to go on with normalcy for the children. Part of me wants to lock them up and get through the holidays, but we must go on."
Mendoza said that after she discussed what had happened, her daughter had trouble sleeping for the "first time in years." She added that they have told their younger daughter very little about the tragedy.
"We discussed what happened over the weekend after some deliberation," Mendoza said. "We really limited access to all the media until we could discuss what happened. We discussed what may be discussed today in school and told her if she felt uncomfortable with any discussions going on in the classroom to excuse herself from conversations. She was a little sadder and more solemn going to the bus today."
Across the state, many students had urged each other — via Facebook and Twitter — to wear green and white, the colors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, as tribute on Monday. UConn basketball players wore green and white patches at their basketball game Monday night, which began with a moment of silence.
Wethersfield High School was awash in green and white ribbons Monday, with students donning the Sandy Hook colors.
Wethersfield Superintendent Michael T. Emmett said that the district's crisis response team met Monday morning, as did faculty and staff. "I think our goal was to try and make today as normal as possible," he said.
Emmett said that some parents had spoken extensively with their children about the shooting deaths in Newtown, while others had chosen to shield their kids from the terrible events.
Some parents made it clear that they wanted to control how much their children knew about the massacre, a request that the district honored, Emmett said.
"We really gauged it (help for individuals) on individual need," he said.
Emmett said that he visited every school Monday and praised teachers, administrators and staff for making the day as routine as possible. At Emerson-Williams Elementary School, students were talking about what was for lunch, monster trucks and Christmas instead of the shootings, he said.
Donna Grubka, the mother of a 6-year-old at Buttonball Elementary in Glastonbury, said that she received emails from the public school system and her daughter's teacher in response to the shootings, stating that there were no plans to discuss the incident during their kindergarten class.
"It's comforting. I'm happy that it's not going to be brought up and that [the teacher and I] are on the same page," she said. "It's just going to create more anxiety and fear, especially because [my daughter] doesn't fully know what happened or why."
Grubka said that her other two children — a 15-year-old in high school and a 13-year-old at the middle school — knew what had transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary, but that the family intentionally kept their 6-year-old away from it. She said she felt that the local elementary school was safe but noted that Friday's events showed that, at times, little will stop a person determined to do harm.
"You can have all of the precautions, but they will get through if they want. It's a random act of violence, and it's scary," Grubka said.
At Hartford Public High School's Law and Government Academy, teachers cried during an emergency staff meeting Monday morning, said Cathy Horton, the school's theme and instructional coach.
Ana Marquez-Greene, the 6-year-old niece of Assistant Principal Taina Amaro, was among the Sandy Hook victims. Students and staff began wearing pink-and-black ribbons Monday in memory of Ana.
In Bloomfield, Superintendent James Thompson spent the morning visiting all of the schools in the district. The plan, Thompson said, was to meet with teachers and staff to discuss how to address the shootings with students and to make sure they knew that there were counselors available to any student or staff member who wanted to talk.
Thompson said there was no request for increased police coverage, but it was evident that more patrol cars were making the rounds.