Crisis Response Plans Why are schools responsible for Crisis Response Planning? What components already exist in your district/school? What parts of this legislation cause you heartburn?
Most Common Crises Schools Experience
Student death due to accident or illness
Student death by suicide
Student death due to homicide
Staff death due to accident or illness
Staff death by suicide
Catastrophic events involving students or staff
Expectations of Training
Understand the legislation & essential components of crisis response plan
Be able to construct a district plan for implementation
Identify pertinent members of a team
Provide current research and resources for school districts interested in further information.
Crisis Response Planning Legislation
District constructs model
Schools construct specific plans/teams
District annually review/update and post
Training annually for all district employees
District: July 1, 2000
School: December 31, 2000
Each school shall have a crisis response team
Minimum Team Membership
One certified member.
One classified member
Basic Plan Requirements
Identification of person in charge and a substitute
Identification of team members and specific crisis team job functions
A communication plan
Crisis response protocols
Evacuation and lock down plans
Crisis response policies .
The district and each school within the district shall consult with local social services agencies and local law enforcement authorities when developing the school crisis response plan.
The legislation defines crisis to include a traumatic event or emergency condition that creates distress, hardship, fear or grief.
Working in the Aftermath
Grief and Trauma are Different
Trauma is unlike any other psychological response.
Traditional counseling techniques are not helpful.
Grief An emotional response to loss of something loved. A heart centered experience characterized by sadness, anger, guilt and other emotions.
A reaction to exposure to events beyond the realm of every day experience.
A brain based biochemical response.
Reactions to Trauma
Leaves people feeling collectively helpless
Out of control
Children’s responses are dependent upon that of the adults around them.
Trauma survivors need to cope with the trauma before they can begin to grieve
The victim of trauma does not need to know the injured or deceased to suffer trauma
Trauma victims are triggered into high anxiety by being too close to those who are highly emotional or are grieving.
The Continuum of Trauma
Untreated Trauma may lead to:
use of drugs and alcohol
loss of sleep
increase in high risk behavior
increase in violence
loss of viable and long-term relationships
withdrawn and isolated behavior
inability to access their old emotional self
life no longer feels the same
Factors That Increase the Likelihood of Trauma
Incidents within closely knit communities
Incidents with multiple eye witnesses
When the victims have a special significance
When a community is exposed to carnage or misery
Incidents that call for numerous rescue workers
Incidents that attract a great deal of media attention
Stages of Crises Planning
Crisis Management is that part of a school’s approach to school safety which focuses more narrowly on a time-limited, problem-focused intervention to identify, confront and resolve the crisis, restore equilibrium and support appropriate adaptive responses.
School-wide Management after the Crisis
Calm leadership and consistency in discipline
Take positive action
Create a safe environment
Predict and prepare
Normalize the usual reactions to trauma
Create opportunities to talk
Allow for personal action
There is a sense of security in knowing we have a plan for crisis intervention. Knowing what to do and when to do it, keeps crisis from becoming chaos.
A Typical Plan May Include:
A working definition of crisis
Team members and team jobs
Communication plan (includes all phone numbers)
Protocols and Procedures to follow during crisis
What the Plan Makes Clear
What each team member will do
How the chain of command operates
Who is in charge of what
How to approach problems that may come up
Why Do You Need A Team?
A crisis response team is a collection of representatives from all facets of school life. A team provides collaborative leadership when crisis occurs and assumes an educational role with teachers, staff, parents, other school personnel and students. When crisis occurs, the team shares in decision-making and delegates the tasks of the specific incident.
A Crisis Response Team:
Assesses and provides structure
Prepares for the crisis
Responds during the crisis
Possible Team Members
Assistant Principal or designee
School Social Worker
Social Service Agency Representative
Specific Jobs During Crisis
Law Enforcement Liaison
Safe Room Attendant
Keeper of the Ready Bag
Home Visit Designee
One of the most important parts of a plan is COMMUNICATION. Who tells what to whom and when… incomplete information only fuels rumors. COMMUNICATION must be ongoing and should be closely followed up. This can build trust and credibility with the school and the community.
The Most Important Thing
VERIFY THE FACTS
The principal or designee should contact law enforcement, medical authorities or family to verify if indeed a crisis did occur and the magnitude of it.
Identify & notify internal groups.
Designate staff to answer the phone.
Identify & notify key communicators in the community.
Provide accurate & timely information to the media
After the immediate crisis have a public meeting
The goal is to give staff time to become emotionally prepared to meet the day. Should include all staff including secretary, custodian, cooks, bus drivers, etc.
Give only the facts
Give the time and place of a before school meeting
Request that callers not go into conjecture or surmising
Bullhorns & megaphones
Announcing the Crisis
Announce as soon as facts are verified
Make the announcement for all students at the same time
Make the announcement from a formal written statement
Make the announcement to small groups of students (in a classroom)
Do not use the PA system.
What the Announcement Will Say
Who was involved
What is happening now
What information do I need
What will happen next
Keep in Mind: A regular day may be too hard for grieving students. Offer choices of activities.
Assign a media liaison person
Do not allow press on campus
Call them before they call you
Identify a time & a neutral place to meet with them
Have an official statement prepared
Give honest answers
A severe earthquake occurs during school hours. There is structural damage to the school building and several students and staff members are hurt. Power has gone out all over town limiting communication.
A Crisis is in progress on school grounds
The Crisis has already occurred
If a criminal activity call 911
Implement lock-down or evacuation procedures
Convene the crisis-response team
Initiate the phone tree
Convene the crisis-response team
Alert bus system
Buddy school or alternative location
Attend to students with special needs
Lock Down Preparation
Determine signals and procedures for lockdowns.
Detention of students in classrooms
Checking of hallways by teachers
Keep students calm
Close shades & blinds, lock windows & doors
Wait for the all clear signal
Ready Bag Contents
Phone number list
Keys to all doors
Student roster including parents phone numbers
Pens & magic markers
First Aid Kit
Convene Crisis Team
Assign team members specific jobs
Prepare formal statement
Plan staff meeting
Identify students & staff most affected
Determine if additional resources are needed in community
Provide guidelines to staff
Setup & staff safe room
Assign staff to follow deceased students schedule
Make school announcement
Remove deceased student from attendance rolls
Crisis Response at Building Level
Introduce the crisis team
Summarize the assignments
Announce safe room
Designate staff gathering place
Discuss impact of the event
Announce press protocols
Offer coverage of classes for teachers who need a break
Hand out pertinent forms
Suggest possible beginning thoughts/phrases
Give time/place of after school or next meeting
Greet and say good-bye to survivors in their own language
Allow survivors to direct you through cultural protocols and follow their direction
Participate in defined rituals, as allowed or requested
Apologize when you do something wrong
Find out, and use, appropriate body language
Be aware of spiritual beliefs in the culture
A space that is set aside for people to gather in the aftermath of tragedies. Most often this is in the school library or some other comfortable space.
It is not whether the Safe Room is used by a large number of kids that makes it useful. Whether kids go into it or not, they know they can! This builds a bridge to safety for them.
Safe Room Guidelines
Listen, observe, validate, reflect
Sign in and out
List students who may need follow-up services
Allow students to choose the length of the Safe Room stay
Refer students to counselors if needed
Safe Room Checklist
Name tags for staff
Healthy food & drink
Sign in & out sheet
Age appropriate books
Tape player & relaxing music
Community Resource List
Safe Room Activities
Listening to music
Working on assignments
Drinking hot chocolate
Just a time to feel “safe enough to feel”
Give Sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o’er wrought heart and bids it break-- --Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Safe Room Handouts to Have Ready
Helping a grieving friend
Helping grieving parents
Helping your child after a disaster
Funerals & memorial activities
Post-traumatic stress reactions
Stages of grief
Guidelines for classroom discussion
Phone tree directions
Needs of students
Warning signs of suicide
Forms or Templates to Have Ready
Letter template for parents
Initial announcement of crisis event
Orientation information for team
Safe room sign in
Student referral slips
You are notified at 5:30 a.m. that a 12th grade boy who was on the basketball team committed suicide by gunshot during the night. He was out the evening before with his girlfriend and some friends. The friends witnessed a loud fight between him and his girlfriend. He also has a brother in 8th grade and a sister in 4th grade.
Crisis During Non-school Time
Institute the phone tree to inform Crisis Response Team members
Coordinate with community agencies
Identify & make a list of students & staff most likely to be affected
Notify remaining staff with information by letter or telephone
Schedule faculty meeting for an update before affected students return to school
When school reconvenes, monitor students & staff previously identified
Policy provides both a foundation and a framework for action. The chances of effectively managing a crisis are increased with consistent district policies.
Evacuation vs. Lockdown
Transportation for Early Dismissal
Conducting drills and establishing a procedure for periodically reviewing and updating the Crisis Response Plan are two essential elements of maintaining preparedness.
For team members: respond to hypothetical scenarios.
Practice drills that involve moving staff & students to a safe location.
Practice lock down procedures with staff and students.
Avoid using dramatic props.
A coordinated district-wide crisis response is no accident. It reflects prevention, intervention and rehearsed reaction.