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updated: 7/23/2012 11:36 PM

Dist. 300 updates crisis handbook

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Community Unit District 300's crisis handbook has always effectively prepared administrators, staff and students for critical situations and adequately outlined expectations for dealing with incidents such as the death of a student or teacher.

But Gary Chester, the district safety officer, said the plan was not clear on what the school or district should do in order to meet the emotional and psychological needs of students, teachers and the community after an event.

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Now, district social workers and counselors have developed a strategy that includes teams to respond to critical incidents by providing assistance and resources to students and staff.

The team that updated processes for recovery and intervention presented the latest plan to the school board Monday.

Jane Hansen, a social worker at Dundee-Crown High School said although the guidebook has included the recovery process in the past, it was no longer a usable document.

In the overhaul, the crisis plan now includes a checklist to guide decisions and activities by various groups -- from the superintendent to classroom teacher.

"It wasn't user-friendly in the day and age of having information at your fingertips," Hansen said. "There were paragraphs of information. People don't want to look at paragraphs. They want checklists and bullet points."

The updated plan also provides information for staff and administrators so that "things are ready to go," said Georgette Grady, a social worker at Westfield Community School.

"This gives people structure in a time of crisis," said Grady, who worked on the plan with Hansen, as well as Jeremy Baldwin, a counselor at Jacobs High School, and Samantha King, a counselor at Carpentersville Middle School.

Chester said an incident two years ago involving an elementary school student who was hit by a school bus revealed gaps in the crisis plan.

"There is training on how to respond to an event, but the recovery was neglected," Chester said. "The recovery phase is just as important as the preparation piece ... The psyche of the school and community is impacted so much, we have to find a way to bring normalcy back to the school."

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