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  Sample back-to-school talking points for educators
 
 
  How you discuss the tragedy will depend on the age of the students. At any age, it’s important to give students a chance to express their feelings and concerns. It’s also critical to re-establish routines that make students feel secure and able to learn.

Release of information:
  • Before releasing any information about victims, ensure it is verified and the family is willing to disclose it publicly.

  • Avoid use of public address systems or large assemblies to make announcements about crisis situations.

  • The school should develop a prepared statement so teachers can give the same information at the same time to all students.

In the classroom:
  • Greet students warmly and welcome them back.

  • Use the prepared statement to provide accurate, factual information about what happened and actions taken.

  • Correct misperceptions and address rumors.

  • Tell students how the school is protecting their safety.

  • Answer questions honestly and empathetically without getting too explicit.

  • Be sensitive to different cultures and how they react to trauma.

  • Tell students how to access counseling support and encourage them to go to adults for help.

  • Talk about their rights and responsibilities with the media.

  • Encourage students to write down or draw their thoughts, feelings and concerns, making sure that the activities are age-appropriate.

  • Ask that students cooperate with law enforcement investigations.

  • Create safe channels for providing information in confidence or anonymously.

Important points to make:
  • We are all sad about what happened at our school.

  • Some of us may feel angry, afraid or guilty. All of these are normal responses to a tragedy. We won’t all feel the same emotions, and that’s normal and OK.

  • None of us is to blame.

  • Each of you is important to me.

  • We need to support each other in this difficult time.

  • If you see someone who needs help, get the student to a responsible adult or tell an adult immediately.

Avoid:
  • Cleaning out a student’s locker or desk and/or removing the student’s artwork or photos too soon. Wait and gauge staff and student readiness.




 
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