School boards respond to terrorist impact

With frightening images of planes crashing into the World Trade Center and reports of thousands of lost lives dominating the media, schools–including some here–are prepared to deal with any impact of Tuesday’s catastrophic events on students.
At schools under the Northwest Catholic District School Board, including St. Michael’s and St. Francis here, Education Director John Madigan e-mailed instructions to principals yesterday.
“We had our intermediate [students] watching TV in the library, and then had teachers go back and talk with them about it,” said St. Francis principal Brendan Hyatt. “Because it was so close to home.”
He added he gave out some information to teachers yesterday with tips as to how to answer questions on the matter.
“But it’s really up to the teacher if they feel the need to talk about it,” said Hyatt, adding the flag outside the school was at half-mast this morning.
“We have a primary school here and the staff has tried their best to explain to students that they are in safe country,” noted Huffman principal Penny Newman.
“But I’m sure the impact is different at the intermediate level, and especially at the high school.”
She added the Rainy River District School Board sent out a memo which principals could choose to send home to parents, and a list of tips on answering questions is posted in the staff room.
At Fort Frances High School, vice-principal Gord McCabe said the tragedy of the terrorist attacks “hasn’t had an impact on the day-to-day running of the school.”
“I know some of our teachers have addressed the topic, especially in history and social sciences. Teachers talk about it if the students want to,” he remarked.
“We’ve tried to be supportive as need be. But, as far I know, there hasn’t been a student with ties to someone at the incident in New York, for example,” added McCabe.
None of the schools contacted reported a need for “grief counselling” as of this morning.
In related news, the national 24-hour hotlines, Kids Help Phone and Parent Help Line, is available for kids confused by the tragedy and parents who aren’t sure what to say to their kids.
The first can be reached at 1-888-603-9100 and the latter at 1-800-668-6868.
Meanwhile, some businesses across Canada have been accepting monetary donations for the Canadian Red Cross’ “USA Appeal.”
Locally, customers can make donations at Canada Safeway here as of today. There won’t be collection boxes but instead shoppers can ask that a donation be added to their bill.
Donations to the Red Cross also can be made at the TD, CIBC, and Royal banks here. Many other banks with no branches here, such as Bank of Montreal, are participating, too.
These donation may be made any time between tomorrow and Monday, Oct. 15. Donations of goods are not being acceptable.
Red Cross teams are providing basic relief items and accommodations to people stranded due to grounded flights in both Canada and the U.S. In Atlantic Canada alone, more than 200,000 travellers were stranded.