"I can't imagine what it must be like being a parent with a child that young, putting them on a school bus," Sinko said.

The district has made plans to send surviving Sandy Hook students to Chalk Hill, a former middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Sandy Hook desks that will fit the small students are being taken there, empty since town schools consolidated last year, and tradesmen are donating their services to get the school ready within a matter of days.

"These are innocent children that need to be put on the right path again," Monroe police Lt. Brian McCauley said.

With Sandy Hook Elementary still designated a crime scene, state police Lt. Paul Vance said it could be months before police turn the school back over to the district.

The shooting has put schools on edge across the country.

Anxiety ran high enough in Ridgefield, Conn., about 20 miles from Newtown, that officials ordered a lockdown at schools after a person deemed suspicious was seen at a train station.

Two schools were locked down in South Burlington, Vt., because of an unspecified threat. A high school in Windham, N.H., was briefly locked down after an administrator heard a loud bang, but a police search found nothing suspicious.

Lanza is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, a civilian version of the military's M-16. It is similar to the weapon used in a recent shopping mall shooting in Oregon and other deadly attacks around the U.S. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in this country under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the law expired in 2004.

The outlines of a national debate on gun control have begun to take shape. At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said curbing gun violence is a complex problem that will require a "comprehensive solution."

Carney did not offer specific proposals or a timeline. He said President Barack Obama will meet with law enforcement officials and mental health professionals in coming weeks.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, flanked by shooting survivors and relatives of victims of gunfire around the country, pressed Obama and Congress to toughen gun laws and tighten enforcement after the Newtown massacre.

"If this doesn't do it," he asked, "what is going to?"

At least one senator, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said Monday that the attack in Newtown has led him to rethink his opposition to the ban on assault weapons.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who is an avid hunter and lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, said it's time to move beyond the political rhetoric and begin an honest discussion about reasonable restrictions on guns.

"This is bigger than just about guns," he added. "It's about how we treat people with mental illness, how we intervene, how we get them the care they need, how we protect our schools. It's just so sad."

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Sandy Hook shooting