The Camden County School Board on Tuesday to approve the Crisis Counseling Response guide.
The guide and procedures come after two high school students died by suicide last school year. Although the deaths occurred off campus, the school district wanted to put in place response teams to help students better deal with after death situations which often impact the student body.
The response guide was spearheaded at the request of Camden County School District Social Worker Bianca Booker. Superintendent Will Hardin commended Ms. Booker for gathering a team of concerned citizens and teachers in the community to formulate the response guide for the district.
The response guide focuses on how to communicate with students about the death of a fellow student or faculty member. The guide contains the following:
- Procedures for establishing a district and school-based Crisis Response Team (CRT) & roles for each member
- The district team members will include the Student Services Director, School Social Workers, School Counselor, School Psychologist, Health Services Coordinator, Teacher, and School Resource Officer
- The school-based teams will include a School Counselor, Officer Manager, Custodian, CRT Coordinator, and Assistant CRT Coordinator. According to Ms. Booker, these professionals will act as “boots on the ground” team members at each school. The CRT will be the assigned school social worker, and the assistant CRT will be the principal or designee. Booker emphasized that placing a custodian on the school-based response team was critical as custodians create a strong bond and relationship with students in the school. “They can be a great asset to us,” said Booker.
- Actions for annual review of team and roles
- A step by step guide for how to intervene from verification of death through the first day of school
- Prepared statements for front office staff and teachers to foster a unified response
- Detailed checklists for each person on crisis counseling response team
- Interagency communication, as well as instructions for informing staff, students, and parents.
“This is our tool to respond to students in a crisis that is a unified response,” said Booker. “We want to standardize our response and to make sure that we are responding appropriately and in a timely manner.”
Both Ms. Booker and Dr. Hardin stated that streamlining communications with the school-based response teams will help manage information more efficiently for the public during and after death or crisis.
The responses teams are expected to meet before August 30th to update all information and crisis team members along with electronic communications. Booker emphasized that if a crisis does occur at the school, school staff will meet before school starts, so that information about the crisis is uniform. Additionally, this will allow for the crisis response teams to help teachers and staff answer questions about what they may encounter with students who have questions. Plans of communications are expected to be slightly different at elementary, middle, and high school.
School Board Member Mark Giddens asked if there will be a tipline that could be called and Dr. Hardin said that is currently being explored.
School district personnel will receive more information regarding the CRTs during the pre-planning sessions before the first day of school which is August 3rd.
Facility Safety Item –
The school district also received $85,088 in a school safety grant that was passed by the Georgia Legislature this year. The funds are to be used for upgrading safety improvements for facilities, technology, video surveillance cameras, metal detectors, alarms, communications systems, building access controls, and other similar security devices.
The $85,088 is spread over a 5-year period. The Georgia General Assembly approved $16 million statewide for all districts.
“When you divide that out among the schools in the state, that gets watered down pretty quickly,” said Dr. Hardin. “We are replacing doors at the high school, and you can probably put two doors in at the high school for $85,000. So, we appreciate the $85,000.”
Dr. Hardin emphasized that the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) funds are the main source to help fund facility safety measures.