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How the school handles the death of a student or teacher

Erin Randstrom, Sports Editor

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The death of someone you know causes difficult emotions. Many people often deal with death in different ways.

The death of a student or teacher within a school has its own set of procedures the school follows. The Crisis Team is responsible for enacting a plan that helps people deal with the emotions for as long as needed.

The process begins with relaying the information the school is given from the family. Mrs. Sheriff, head of guidance said, “The news is shared from what we know and what the parent is allowing us to share, so what we know is very dependent on what the parent is giving us in terms of information.”

The parents inform the school of specific information, but the school is not allowed to share that with the members of Sandburg. The school is very dependent on what the parents provides in terms of what they give out to the student body. In some cases, the family shares more information and in other cases they don’t allow the school to share that information. The school cares about being respectful to the parents wishes.

The school gathers specific members of the staff to form a Crisis Team. The Team includes Mrs. Baker, Mr. DeCraene, Mr. Klene, Mr. Smith, Mrs. Sheriff, all the other administratives in the building, the division chairs, the deans, athletic director, every guidance counselor, all the social workers, and the school psychologist. The Team’s main goal is to find out who is most affected by the death.

Mrs. Baker said, “The Crisis Team generates a list of close friends, teachers, or any sponsors the person would have been with. Those individuals are told first so there is an order to the communication, and it’s because we want to be sensitive to the friends or those closest to them.” Following this protocol allows the Team to control how the information is released to the student body.

By having this list of people who need the most support, the Crisis Team is able to direct their resources more directly. Mr. Klene said, “Those are students that we would escort down to a space where there’s one-on-one or even two-on-one support. In the case of students, we might invite their parents to be a part of the conversation, because we need their support to [help] their son or daughter.”

If a student or staff member passes away, the whole district comes together to help the other school in their time of need. Mr. DeCraene said, “In some cases the social workers from the other two buildings in the district will send in guidance counselors in the case of a sudden loss. It’s not just this building, it’s the entire district that reaches out with that guidance and social workers to help support the kids.”

The school doesn’t hold a memorial for the student of staff member, but a school club or group of friends may choose to do something special in memory of the person or for the family. A district-wide protocol is to have a moment of silence for the student or faculty member at graduation.

Mrs. Baker said, “One other thing that seems to be what families appreciate is, at a senior party, the family or a parent of the student who passed away comes in and classmates and friends will decorate a graduation cap. We have it framed and we present it to the family.” This brings the graduating class closer as a whole.

A sudden death of a student or staff member is the greatest tragedy for a school. Having a solid plan eases the pain felt in the school and make it come closer as a whole. Remembering a classmate will keep the memory alive. Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.

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How the school handles the death of a student or teacher