How to help our children cope with recent events in our country and around the world: Guidelines from the National Association of School Psychologists:
All Adults Should:
- Model calm and control.
- Reassure children they are safe .
- Remind them trustworthy people are in charge
- Let children know it is okay to feel upset.
- Tell children the truth.
- Stick to the facts.
- Be careful not to stereotype people or countries that might be associated with the violence. Stop any bullying or teasing immediately.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!
- Maintain a “normal” routine.
- Monitor or restrict exposure
- Observe children’s emotional state.
- Be aware of children at greater risk.
- Provide an outlet for students’ desire to help. .
- Keep lines of communication open between home and school.
- Monitor your own stress level.
There has been a lot in the media lately regarding school violence and the numbers of violent events that have occurred in our nation’s schools in recent years. The administrative, teaching and support staff understand that this can be very anxiety provoking for parents and you may have questions about how we keep your students safe in our schools.
These are some of the things we do as a staff to maintain the safest environment we can for our students:
1. Our district has a comprehensive Safe Schools Plan that covers as many events as we can anticipate, from extreme weather events, to school violence to pandemic disease. These plans are reviewed in depth every three years with fire, police and public health and annually within the school department. Updates are made whenever needed. These plans are not for public release so as to not compromise safety, but the Director of Health and Safety (413-587-1364) is happy to talk with any community member about our plans.
2. A plan is only as good as it is practiced. Over and over we have seen how people are kept from harm because they knew what to do in a crisis event. Northampton school staff practice our plans regularly through drills with fire and police, response team meetings and district-wide tabletop practice exercises. We recommend that families also have a plan and practice it. More information on how to do this is available in the “safety planning” section of the NPS Health Services website.
3. Communication is key. We will use a variety of means to communicate with families during a crisis event, including our reverse 911 call system, email, letters, our website and social media. We will always give you as much accurate information as we can and we hope that if families have information that could be helpful to us, they will likewise share it with the appropriate staff. In a crisis, it is understandable that parents and guardians will want timely and accurate information and we just ask that you not flood our phone lines, which may be needed to manage the crisis, but instead look to the other means mentioned here to get information.
4. Our fire, police, public health and administrative school staff maintain open lines of communication and meet regularly to discuss issues in our schools. We also attend trainings so as to stay up to date on the latest research on school safety and best practices. All administrative staff have obtained basic Incident Command Response certification from FEMA, which helps them know how to communicate and operate with our emergency responders during a crisis.
We hope this information has been helpful for you!
For information on how to help children who experience traumatic events in their own lives or via the media, please refer to the documents below.