The Newton Public Schools has established a citywide crisis team whose tasks include prevention, intervention and response to crisis. The committee includes representatives of community and government agencies in the city of Newton, including a Health and Safety committee representative from the PTO Council (Laura Holt).
In addition to the citywide crisis team, each school has a school-based crisis team whose role is also to prevent, intervene and respond to any crisis within that school. The school-based teams are led by the principals of each school with representatives from various core groups within the building, such as mental health professionals, the school nurse, program specialists, and parent representative(s). The parent representative(s) are the PTO co-presidents.
These teams work in collaboration to provide comfort, safety, support and consistency to students, faculty and community members during a crisis situation.
Each year, the PTO Council Health & Safety committee chair arranges a training session for PTO co-presidents to assist them in fulfilling their role as crisis team representatives. A summary of that training is below.
Crisis Team Training Summary
A crisis—disruption usually brought on by traumatic events—is unpredictable and overwhelming for those who experience it.
• Death of parent, student or staff member
• Serious illness/parent, student or staff member
• Building-based emergency, such as an oil leak or a boiler breakdown
• Onset of war or terrorist acts
• Natural disasters
The goal of the PTOs is to provide support to families to get through the crisis, trying to reduce short and long term consequences. We want to keep things as normal as possible for the children.
The role of the PTO co-chairs includes:
• Provide basic creature comfort support to the school community
• Follow lead of Principal/Administrator
• Provide consistency/continuity of support
• Be flexible and stay calm
• Know the roles of other members and direct information as designated
• Leave ego needs behind
If there is a crisis:
• Contact the principal
• Contact Laura Holt
• Communicate with the school safety team and with the community as needed
• Know your evacuation site, and add it to your school directory
• Create budget line for crisis use
• Have list of friendly community “donators”
• Have list of parents who can help in emergency situations. Regarding needs for a specific family, approach a close family friend who can relay the family’s wishes to others.
• Review emergency procedures specific to your school with your principal
• Keep away from offers of financial support to family, unless it is to pass along information about a fund.
• Remember that what you do for one family, you need to be able to do for other families in similar situations.
• Always ask for help…and put Laura’s phone number in your cell phone!
Sample Crisis Information Sheet (Word file)