NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — On January 6, police say a 6-year-old boy intentionally shot his teacher, 25-year-old Abby Zwerner. She is recovering at home after being shot in the chest.
No one has been charged in the incident at this time
More than three weeks later, Richneck Elementary School students on Monday returned to the classroom for the first time.
"It was amazing. It was perfect!"
That's how Myah and Madisen McBride described their first day back with their friends.
"We had therapy dogs at school today. They were so fluffy," the 4th graders said.
The consensus of the children 13News Now spoke to walking out of class was that they missed their classmates and were bored during their three weeks at home. The McBride sisters say they were happy to be practicing math and reading books again.
They also said they had to go through the metal detectors, but they weren't as scary as they thought they would be.
Parent Samuel Sam said the last three weeks have been a whirlwind.
"It’s been a little different. I’ll say scary because you don’t know what’s happening or how to proceed from here."
Despite his reservations, he took his 1st-grade daughter back to class.
"I know the school is probably gonna overcompensate for everything that happened. Spoil them, take them out, give them the little stuff, but I just hope all in all she still has fun and comes home and is still happy," he said.
Suzanne Turner picked up her kindergartener Monday afternoon and said she thinks the day went well, despite her nerves dropping him off.
"He had a good day today. It was a normal day. He seems okay," said Turner.
After the shooting, the Newport News School Board announced 90 new metal detectors will be installed division-wide. Students also left Richneck with clear backpacks on Monday.
Turner said that made her feel better.
"I’m angry it wasn’t done sooner, but you know, it’s being done now. At least, that’s good. I don’t have any issue with the security, metal detectors, nothing. Whatever is gonna keep us safe."
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said they have wrapped up interviews with students and staff and are preparing to present that information to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
He said moving forward, communication is key.
"If something’s going on at the schools that may spill back into the community or the neighborhood or something is going on that we need to know about at the school. I actually think I have a meeting coming up on Friday with the Superintendent just to open up those lines of communication," he said.
Many of the parents we spoke to said their children are so young that what happened in that classroom still hasn’t fully hit them yet.
So, it's important to note that licensed therapists and social workers are still at the school for students, staff, and parents. No appointment is needed.
There is also a new tip line for Newport News staff members.
Newport News Education Association President James Graves created it because of an “overwhelming” number of issues being underreported within the division.
He said he created it for NNPS employees so he can fully understand concerns before addressing administrators about any issues. It’s completely confidential.
If you have a concern, send it to NNEA.NewportNews@gmail.com.