What to do when the unthinkable happens

1. Don’t panic. Remember: Students depend on teachers, and teachers depend on administrators. A lack of control on your part can result in chaos.

2. Have your safety plan readily accessible and follow it.

3. Notify appropriate school or district personnel by phone if possible.

4. Designate a single spokesperson for the school or system.

5. While students cannot be prohibited from talking to the press, reporters and photographers can be denied access to the school building.

6. No one has a legal obligation to take serious risks that may result in personal injury or death.

7. Implement a communication plan for persons other than the media. Principals and/or superintendents should meet with faculty and staff, parents and students as soon as possible. In the alternative, written communication should be sent.

8. Give school counselors a primary role.

9. Ask for and utilize outside professional help.

10. Do not talk to attorneys except the school or district attorney. Refer all other attorneys to the school or district attorney. Failing to follow this advice can result in claims that administrators accepted liability.

From Sr. Mary Angela Shaughnessy