October 23, 2014
On behalf of the school community, I extend our support and condolences to all those affected by the events on Parliament Hill. It was a difficult day for our community.
At the school, our first priority is always the safety of our students and staff. When we encounter situations of risk, we implement appropriate safety measures to secure the school and we make every effort to maintain a calm and safe learning environment.
In response to this incident, our school moved to Shelter in Place. “Shelter in Place” mode means regular activity continues within the school, but all exterior doors and windows are locked, and students are kept inside at lunch and recess.
In emergency situations, we receive communications support from the school district. This allows school staff to stay focused on school needs and ensures consistent and timely messaging to the community. Information was provided to parents through the media, social media (Twitter and Facebook), our district website (ocdsb.ca), and direct phone calls and e-mail to parents, the school website and telephone calls. At times like this, we are reminded of the importance of having up-to-date emergency contact information for all parents. Please ensure that your contact information is up to date.
As we resume regular operations, we will be keeping a close eye on student and staff well-being. We know that children may be confused by what they have heard concerning what has happened in our city yesterday. Most likely they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children cope by listening, acknowledging and validating feelings and by being reassuring. At the school, we will provide resources and supports to students as required. Attached is an information sheet for parents to help manage conversations with children. This information is also posted on the district and our school website.
If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact the school. I appreciate your ongoing support.
Communication Tips for Parents and Teachers
Children may be confused by what they have heard about what has happened in our city today. Most likely they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children cope by listening, acknowledging and validating feelings and by being reassuring.
Model calm and control – children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives.
Limit exposure to media coverage. Images of a crisis can become overwhelming, especially if watched repeatedly. Adolescents may choose to watch the coverage- be available to discuss what they are watching and help them put it into perspective.
Follow, don’t lead. Make time to talk, but don’t force discussion with children who don’t feel the need to discuss the issue. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or other chores. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.
Answer their questions. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate- young children need brief, simple information that is balanced with reassurances that the daily routines of their lives will not change.
Acknowledge and validate their feelings. Regardless of what emotion is being expressed, it is important for children to feel heard and believe that their feelings are accepted. As feelings are discussed, help children put their feelings into perspective.
Monitor your own stress level. Don’t ignore your own feelings of shock, worry, anger, etc. Talk to your support people – your family and friends, counselor. It is okay to let your children know that you too are surprised, confused, worried, saddened by has happened. You are better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a healthy manner.
Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that Ottawa is a safe community and that home and schools are very safe. Review safety precautions and review a plan for whom to talk to about any concerns they may have.