Crisis Response

1.      INTRODUCTION

1.1.   This Policy Statement has been devised and published by the Board of Management of Deerpark CBS, following collaboration and consultation with the following partners:

The teaching staff, the Parents’ Council and the Students’ Council.

1.2.   This policy statement was ratified by the Board of Management in December 2004 and replaces all previous policy statements on this topic.

1.3.   The aim of the School is to promote an environment which enhances the self-esteem and personal well being of all its members.

1.4.   The School recognises that the response to crises, tragedies and unexpected critical events must be addressed as each unique situation presents.

2.      CONTEXT   

2.1    The following are examples of events considered in the context of this policy statement:

The death of a student or staff member, a fire, explosion or violent occurrence   involving or affecting the school community, a serious accident, serious violence or threat of serious violence involving a member or members of the School Community, or any other serious incident requiring a response.

3. CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM 

3.1.   The Crisis Response team in Deerpark will consist of:

The Principal, Deputy Principal, the School Chaplain, the Guidance Counsellor(s), the home school liaison teacher.

3.2.   The membership of the Crisis Response Team will be renewed at the start of each school year, and all staff will be informed of its membership.

3.3.   Where appropriate, in-service training will be provided for members of the Crisis Response Team.

3.4.   The Crisis Response Team will prepare and agree an outline Crisis Response Plan which will be general in nature.

3.5.   The Crisis Response Team will meet at least once a year to review the role of the Team and the outline Crisis Response Plan.  Meetings will be chaired by the Principal or designate.

4. PROCEDURES IN THE EVENT OF A CRISIS 

4.1.   On hearing news of the event, the Principal will inform the Chairperson of the Board of Management, and will, as soon as possible, call a meeting of the Crisis Response Team.

4.2.   The team, under the direction of the Principal, will establish the facts relating to the case. This may involve liaison with the Gardaí or hospitals or parents as appropriate.

4.3.   A written report of the facts relating to the situation will be prepared and agreed by the Team members and will be disseminated to all involved parties as soon as possible.  It is the intention of the School authorities that rumour and/or speculation will be avoided in such distressing situations.

4.4.   The Crisis Response Team will set out a plan or programme for proceeding under the following headings:

4.4.1.       offering support, comfort and help to people affected by the situation,

4.4.2.       dealing with the impact of the crisis on the School Community.

4.5.   This plan will be clearly drawn up and will be communicated to all concerned.  Possible duties for members of the Crisis Response Team are:

4.5.1.      contacting individual parents/guardians or students,

4.5.2.      visiting the home(s) of the affected person(s)

4.5.3.      alerting outside agencies,

4.5.4.      informing students and staff,

4.5.5.      organising a staff meeting and assemblies of students and staff,

4.5.6.      agreeing a statement for the media,

4.5.7.      agreeing tasks for team members.

4.5.8.      co-opting specialists, such as counsellors, on to the Team as required.

4.5.9.      arranging or organising the involvement of the School in ceremonies.

4.6.   The members of the Crisis Response Team will carry out agreed duties and tasks, and will meet regularly for briefings and updating.

4.7.   One person trained in media communications, preferably the Principal, will take charge of all communication with the media regarding the event.

4.8.   The Principal will report to the School’s insurers as appropriate.

4.9.   The Crisis Response Team will continue to monitor students and staff well-being for a period after the crisis, and will provide updates for the staff and the Board as appropriate.

5. In the event of a major hazard or crisis, the school will be evacuated as per Health and Safety fire evacuation drill.  All members of the school community will be informed of necessary procedures by school safety representative and school safety officer (Principal).

6. ROLE OF THE CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM 

6.1.   IN RELATION TO STAFF

6.1.1.      School staff will be informed as soon as the facts of the matter have been determined and clarified, and a statement has been agreed by the Team members.

6.1.2.      Staff members will have the option of excusing themselves from direct

involvement in dealing with traumatic situations.

6.1.3.      Staff members will be informed of what is expected of them as part of

the School’s strategy for dealing with the crisis.

6.1.4.      Staff members will be informed of support services available to them.

6.2.    IN RELATION TO STUDENTS

6.2.1.      Priority will be given to those most directly affected by the crisis.

6.2.2.      Students will be informed of the crisis as soon as possible.

6.2.3.      Information will be given in a sensitive manner.

6.2.4.      Teachers will support and assure students that they will be kept informed, and involved as members of the School Community.

6.2.5.      In so far as is possible, all students will be informed at around the same time.

6.2.6.      Students will be met by their teachers in class size groups or, where that is not feasible, in separate year groups.  Each group will be visited by a member of the Crisis Response Team, who may support the teachers by answering students’ questions or allaying their concerns.

6.2.7.      Students will be informed of the School’s plans for involvement in services or ceremonies.

6.2.8.      Individual students will have the option of excusing themselves from ceremonies which may be traumatic for them.

6.2.9.      Students will be asked to show support for their affected peers.  They may be encouraged to send a card or to be involved in services.

6.2.10.  Students will be informed of the support services that will be available to them and how they may seek support for themselves or for others.

6.2.11.  Teachers will review facts of the case with the students so as to ensure accuracy.

6.3.   IN RELATION TO PARENTS/GUARDIANS, RELATIVES AND OTHERS

6.3.1.      The Crisis Response Team will set out a plan for informing parents/guardians or relatives in the event of a crisis involving students away from home.

6.3.2.      The Team will arrange to make contact with the Principals of other schools in which siblings of affected students are attending, and to inform them of the situation.

6.3.3.      Priority will be given to those most directly affected by the crisis.

6.3.4.      The same prepared statement will be used by all members who are informing parents/guardians or others.

6.3.5.      In so far as is possible, all parents/guardians will be informed at around the same time.

6.3.6.      Information will be given in a sensitive manner.

6.3.7.      Team members will ascertain whether a parent/guardian is alone or in a vulnerable state, and may propose an appropriate support for him/her.

6.3.8.      In instances where a child has not yet come home, team members will try to help parents/guardians in dealing appropriately with their child when she gets home.

6.3.9.      Parents/guardians will be informed of the support that will be available to them and their children should they require it.

 

6.4    IN RELATION TO DEALING WITH THE MEDIA

6.4.1        The Team will agree on who will be the School’s contact person or persons for the media. The Principal and/or his/her designate will normally assume this role.  He/she may enlist the help of another team member in order to ensure that the media are treated in a courteous manner, and that the School’s interests are not infringed by the involvement of the media.

6.4.2        It is understood that members of the media are professionals who provide a service. Every effort will be made to ensure that their involvement in the reporting of a crisis will not add to the trauma of bereaved or traumatised members of the School Community.

6.4.3        Information will be given to the media in a sensitive manner.  Names, addresses or contact numbers will not be released without the permission of those concerned.

6.4.4        In the event of several members of the media wishing to come to the School, the School will set up a time for a meeting with the media, and will provide one meeting room or area for them. They will not be allowed free access to the whole School.

6.4.5        Statements of fact will be prepared in advance for presentation to the media.

6.4.6        Speculation or hearsay will not be presented in reports to the media.

 

6.5    POST CRISIS MONITORING AND SUPPORT

6.5.1        The Crisis Response Team will meet in the aftermath of a crisis:

6.5.1.1  to monitor the reactions of students and staff,

6.5.1.2  to review the procedures used in dealing with the crisis.

6.5.2    Special attention will be paid to the bereaved, their friends and classmates.

6.5.3    Students and staff will be offered support as appropriate.

6.5.4    It may be appropriate to arrange for members of the Crisis Response Team to visit some homes in the months following a trauma.

8.       REVIEW OF THE POLICY ON CRISIS RESPONSE

The Board of Management of Deerpark CBS, in consultation with the relevant partners, will review this policy  from time to time as appropriate, but will normally do so at the commencement of each new Board of Management.  In the process of such review any section of this policy statement may be amended.