As the process of healing continues for those affected by the Sandy Hook school massacre in December 2012, a big step will be taken Friday when the new building for the Sandy Hook Elementary School will be opened to the public in Newtown, Connecticut. The old building was torn down following the murderous rampage that left 20 children and six teachers dead.

While the academic session will start on Aug. 29, the building is being opened to visitors on July 29 so that the school has a “quiet, respectful, and appropriate opening as teachers and students return to the new school year,” Superintendent of Schools Joseph Erardi told the Associated Press.

The new building has been built on the site of the old one at a cost of $50 million and the over 85,000-square-foot structure has a completely new design. With lots of tress and artwork in many places, the new school campus is designed to be a safe and environmentally friendly place of learning. The funding for the two-storey building came from a state grant and some of the safety features include impact-resistant windows, modern video monitoring, and a design that makes it difficult to look inside classrooms from outside and easy to see anyone approaching the school.

SandyHook Street artist Mark Panzarino, 41, prepares a memorial as he writes the names of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims during the six-month anniversary of the massacre, at Union Square in New York, June 14, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Students from Sandy Hook Elementary, which has classes from kindergarten through fourth grade, have been studying in neighboring Monroe. When it reopens in August, about 380 students will enroll, 70 of which — all fourth-graders now — were kindergarten students at Sandy Hook at the time of the 2012 shooting. However, all the children killed in the incident were first-graders and none of the present students — 30 of them were in the building at the time — in Sandy Hook witnessed the actual shooting.

Transfers and retirements have led to only half the original staff members from Sandy Hook still being with the school. Erardi said both students and staff will be given resources to help cope with coming back to Sandy Hook. Grants from charities will cover the costs of mental health professionals after a three-year $7.1 million grant expired, he added.

Erardi told the Newton Bee, a local news outlet that got a preview of the new building: “This is a large step forward for the staff and faculty of Sandy Hook School that have worked hard to make sure that it will be a fine opening day for 380 youngsters.”