Monday marks the first day back to school for students nationwide following the Connecticut massacre that claimed the lives of more than two dozen people including 20 children and, in the Chicago area, many students will be encountering increased security when they arrive for class.
In west suburban Riverside, uniformed police officers will be stationed outside schools all week in order to reassure concerned parents and field questions concerning schools' security plans, NBC Chicago reports. Other districts are making grief counselors available and offering tips for are parents on how to address their children's questions on the tragedy.
Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools officials urged district principals to review their safety procedures. Police and counselors are also expected to be deployed at CPS schools "as need," according to the Associated Press.
(Read tips on how to talk about the tragedy with children.)
At Catholic schools across the Chicago area, students are starting the morning with a special prayer in memory of the Newtown shooting victims. CBS Chicago reports that not every area parent was happy with the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools' call for the prayer.
Commenting on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Saturday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he hopes to see current gun laws changed. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy also expressed his hope to see a more effective gun tracking system.
"There is no parent and no grandparent in America that is not a resident to Sandy Hook," the mayor said, according to NBC. "There is nobody that had their child last night, that didn't hold them a little closer, pull them in a little tighter, didn't hug them a little more."
At a Sunday prayer vigil in Newtown, President Barack Obama addressed the tragedy.
"We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end," Obama said. "And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law -- no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society."
At a time when many Newtown residents in particular are very much in need of comfort, a crew of 10 Chicago-area golden retrievers were deployed to the town, the Chicago Tribune reports. The Addison-based initiative from Lutheran Church Charities was created following the 2008 Northern Illinois University shooting.
"You could tell which ones …were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet," the group's president Tim Hetzner told the paper. "They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet.”