Classes are starting Thursday at a repurposed school for students who survived a shooting rampage almost three weeks ago in Newtown, Conn.

Desks have been taken to the new building in nearby Monroe along with backpacks and other belongings left behind in the chaos following the Dec. 14 shooting.

Families have been coming in to see the new school, and an open house is scheduled for Wednesday.

David Connors is the father of 8-year-old triplets who escaped unharmed. He says his children have suffered nightmares and jumped at noises.

Experts say it's important for children to get back to a routine and for teachers and parents to offer sensitive reassurances.

Workers have been painting, moving furniture and even raising the floors in the bathrooms of the new location, a former middle school, so the smaller elementary school students can reach the toilets.

Teachers will try to make it as normal a school day as possible for the children, schools Superintendent Janet Robinson said.

"We want to get back to teaching and learning," she said. "We will obviously take time out from the academics for any conversations that need to take place, and there will be a lot of support there. All in all, we want the kids to reconnect with their friends and classroom teachers, and I think that's going to be the healthiest thing."

Teachers are returning as well, and some have already been working on their classrooms. At some point, all those will be honored, but officials are still working out how and when to do so, Robinson said.

"Everyone was part and parcel of getting as many kids out of there safely as they could," she said. "Almost everybody did something to save kids. One art teacher locked her kids in the kiln room, and I got a message from her on my cellphone saying she wouldn't come out until she saw a police badge."

After the evacuation, teachers grouped their children at a nearby fire station, Robinson said. One sang songs, while others read to the students, she said.

A 20-year-old man armed with a high-powered rifle shot and killed his mother before he forced his way into Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot dead 20 children, aged 6 and 7, as well as six staff members, before taking his own life.