NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Signs that say "We are praying for you" and "You are loved" were posted near the entrance of Richneck Elementary School in Newport News Monday morning.
It's the first day back for students since a 6-year-old student shot 1st grade Teacher Abby Zwerner over three weeks ago on January 6.
Zwerner was shot in the chest and was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Now, she's been released and is on the long road to recovery.
The student was taken into custody and to a hospital to be evaluated and cared for, according to Newport News police. Because he's a minor, his identity is unknown.
On January 25, the attorney representing Zwerner announced her intent to file a lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools.
Attorney Diane Toscano claimed that teachers and employees warned administrators three different times that the student had a gun and was threatening people the day of the shooting.
You can read a summary of everything we know so far about the Richneck Elementary shooting by clicking here.
Students were greeted by school board members and the Newport News Mayor, as well as officers from the Newport News Police Department and Police Chief Steve Drew.
“To see everyone out here supporting the kids, it was really exhilarating,” Eve Parham, the grandmother of a Richneck student, said
“We’re here united," said Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones.
"And the fact that there are so many people here, this is what Newport News is.”
Over the last three weeks, parents say they had to have tough conversations with their children about the shooting as they prepared them for the first day back.
“We came to see the counselor one of the weeks he’s been here," parent Jordan Vestre said.
"He really didn’t have that much to say. He was able to process all of the emotions from the day fairly well.”
Vestre says although his third grade son couldn’t wait to go to school, he’s concerned about how the day will go.
“I’m excited because he’s excited but I’m also nervous about it because there’s a lot of changes that I hope it doesn’t overwhelm him,” he said.
A representative also said that students in the specific classroom where the shooting happened would see repainted walls and a new setup.
New safety precautions, such as a metal detector at the entrance, are now in place at the school.
Support staff will also be available for students in need throughout the day. Newport News School Board Chair Lisa Surles-Law said therapy dogs will also be at the school for students.