Although social support has been abundant for Plaza students, Simpson and her staff anticipate an ongoing need for extra special care as students return to the setting in which they experienced a fatal disaster.
“We’ve had an extra counselor on staff every day, and luckily the weather has been nice, so we haven’t experienced the trauma that could come with that,” Simpson said. “Many parents indicated to me that rain, wind or even cloudy skies make their children very anxious.”
Additionally, Simpson said teachers will experience similar anxieties in themselves, and she is concerned about what practicing fire, tornado and lockdown drills will look like with a school that is still healing.
“We have a fire drill with the middle school next week and I’m anxious about that. At the old Plaza, we would announce a fire drill over the intercom before sounding the alarm, but with the middle school, it’ll be just the alarms,” she said. “It’s important for us to practice that, but I think kids will be very anxious. We’ll have extra counselors on standby that day to observe and aid teachers with kids who need attention.”
Acclimating students and teachers to new emergency procedures will be a top priority for Simpson as a method of minimizing inevitable fears and making students feel as safe as possible in an unfamiliar setting.
“Traditionally, fire drills are once a month, tornado drills and lockdown are once or twice a semester. As we move into a this new building with me not knowing it, teachers not knowing it and kids not knowing it, we’re going to have to practice a lot more, which could cause a lot of anxiety, but we have to practice doing these procedures in case of the real thing,” she said.