Schools helping students, parents cope with tragedy

Updated 11/1/2012 3:33 PM

Crisis plans remain in effect at two Naperville schools after the slayings of Olivia Dworakowski, 5, and Justin Plackowski, 7.

Justin's mother, Elzbieta Plackowska, has been charged with the murders of both children.


Justin was a student at Scott Elementary School and Olivia was a kindergarten student at Brookdale Elementary. Both schools enacted their plans Wednesday that included bringing in additional counselors for students, staff and parents; having discussions with children; and sending email and phone communications to parents.

Children arrived at Scott Elementary without incident Thursday, but Naperville Unit District 203 spokeswoman Susan Rice said many parents were visibly concerned and met with counselors in a parent support room at the school.

The school has eight counselors and social workers on site, as well as an additional counselor for staff.

All teachers on Wednesday morning shared a personal statement about the crime with their students. Each statement was written by the individual teacher and tailored to students and their appropriate ages, Rice said, and parents were notified by phone of the discussion.

"We are reassuring students they are safe when they are here at Scott and, if they are feeling sad, that's all right and there's someone here to help them with their feelings," Rice said.

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At Brookdale, officials said both adults and students have responded to the tragedy with extra kindness.

"Parent support has been tremendous as the school community pulls together," Indian Prairie Unit District 204 spokeswoman Janet Buglio said.

Officials in both districts said crisis teams will remain on site indefinitely.

There are no immediate plans for memorials at either school.

District 204's Buglio said "it's too soon for the school to have conversations about a memorial." District 203's Rice said staff members are still working to create an age-appropriate response to the loss .

"At this point in time the focus of the school is to really celebrate Justin's life," Rice said. "This was a very well-liked and well-known little boy. We want to give them the opportunity to talk about all the things about him that made them smile and made him their friend. And (staff) is working out what is the appropriate way to do that."

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