MOUNT MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- With reassuring words from parents and grandparents, little pupils returned to Buell Elementary School today for the first time since a 6-year-old was shot to death in her first-grade classroom.
Room 6, where Kayla Rolland died Tuesday, allegedly at the hands of a classmate, received a fresh coat of paint. And counselors were on hand with teddy bears to help students and teachers get through a difficult day, Superintendent Ira Rutherford said.
''The idea is to bring kids into a situation that speaks to the classroom as they knew it before,'' Rutherford said on NBC's ''Today'' show.
''Inside, other than we adults standing in the hallway, it's close to a normal day,'' Rutherford said after classes got under way. He would not give any information on attendance levels.
He said the little girl at whom the gun was pointed before Kayla was shot visited the classroom Friday. ''She's doing very, very well. I don't think the adults have done as well as the children,'' Rutherford said.
Authorities said today that the investigation has found that the boy suspected in the shooting talked to his 8-year-old brother about the gun on the way to school that day.
''We believe no one else knew,'' Police Chief Eric King said, adding that it was not clear if the older brother actually saw the gun.
The 6-year-old told police that Kayla had slapped him on the arm and was thinking about it the night before the shooting, so he decided to take the gun to school, King said.
''He said he did it to scare her,'' King said.
No charges are expected against the boy. An adult in the house where the boy was staying has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly leaving the gun used in the shooting easily accessible.
The school arranged for extra security today, and the flag flew at half-mast.
Dropping her son off for kindergarten this morning, Tajuan Burns said the child wasn't frightened.
''I talked to him and told him everything would be OK. I just put my faith in God,'' she said.
Genniva Coleman said her 10-year-old grandson ''didn't want to go because he was scared. I told him it couldn't happen again.'' She dropped the fourth-grader off this morning.
But Laura Simons, who is circulating a petition to place metal detectors, security cameras and more teachers aides in the school, said earlier that she will teach her 8-year-old son at home, at least for now.
''If I send my kid to school, how do I know it's not going to happen again?'' said Simons.
Susan Stuber, a spokeswoman for a neighboring school district that has been helping out, said a trained trauma counselor was in each classroom and students were being encouraged to talk or draw. The National Association for Victim Assistance also was helping the school district.
''As soon as we can get back into a routine, the healing can begin,'' the organization's Bill Pfohl said Saturday.
Kayla was buried Saturday at a private funeral. Her family issued a statement of thanks to the community Sunday, saying ''You have all become members of our family. God love you and keep you all safe.''
On Sunday, pastors preached a message of parental responsibility along with sorrow for Kayla's death. They also asked worshippers to forgive the little boy.
The Rev. Birdie Shields, pastor of the Greater Azusa Friendship Church of God near Buell Elementary, said no one can ever know why the shooting happened.
''This little girl became the daughter of all of us. She's my daughter, your daughter. This boy is our son. But he needs some help,'' he said. ''He's not responsible for what he's done.''
On the Net: National Organization for Victim Assistance site: http://www.try-nova.org
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