Tennessee Schools Prepare
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Before The Crisis- Leadership for Principals and Local School Administrators

The principal selects a Postvention team! When the principal selects a Postvention team, he/she is taking a significant step toward being "prepared.” The "in-house” Postvention team will be critically important in all aspects of the post-crisis care of the school community. Role assignments should be carefully selected ahead of time, and team members should receive training in crisis Postvention. Examples of Postvention team responsibilities include:


• Verify the facts of the crisis.
• Determine the appropriate scope of the crisis response.
• Determine the need to "pull in” the district Postvention team.
• Determine how the facts will be communicated to the school.
• Write a statement that can be used by classroom teachers to read to students.
• Identify a family liaison and work closely with affected families.
• Work with, or identify, the media liaison.
• Design interventions for the first day back to school.
• Identify students and faculty that need critical incident stress debriefing, individual counseling, or counseling referrals.
• Organize in-school memorials.
• Maintain and update faculty and all staff telephone chains.
• Offer assistance to teachers in helping children talk about and cope with traumatic events and losses.
• SEE "What is in a Postvention Plan” and "The First Day Back to School” for a more complete list and description of crisis team responsibilities.

Who is on the local school Postvention team? The principal will select a team of four to eight in-house staff members who can be trained in Postvention techniques. Some members of the team may have a role in the initial emergency management team; others may not. Postvention team members include staff with clinical skills, such as the school guidance counselor, social worker, and psychologist, but often other integral members of the school community are involved as well. For example, the school janitor and/or secretary may be considered. The principal and vice-principal will always be members of the Postvention team.

Identify licensed professionals in the community!! Identify licensed professionals in the community ahead of time who would be willing to volunteer their services post-crisis and that you would deem safe to be in your school. Frequently, there are numerous offers to help post-crisis, and this is typically not a good time to sort out who is a licensed mental health professional with training in crisis response. Ideally, each local school Postvention team will meet at least annually with local community mental health volunteers to review Postvention planning. In Tennessee, there are many community mental health centers willing to participate in school crisis Postvention at no charge. To find your local mental health center, visit www.tamho.org.

Develop and maintain several critical phone trees. Develop a complete, continually updated telephone list of your crisis team, identified community supporters, your faculty and support staff, and district personnel that either need to be notified or could be available to assist post-crisis. Have after-hours phone numbers of all, including identified community support agencies! The Principal, Vice Principal, and Crisis Team members must keep the crisis plan and phone tree bedside and in their cars at all times!

Note: The complete, yet continually updated, phone list of all school employees with bedside access for the principal and crisis team members is an essential component of an adequate Postvention plan. Best-practice guidelines indicate that before school meetings help to dispel rumors, prepare teachers for working with students, and inform teachers of changes in the schedule, as well as resources available for the return of students to school. Be prepared to call in staff as necessary with after-hours access to your phone tree! (See "The First Day Back to School”)

Develop and distribute Postvention plan for your staff

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