News Feature

The Island
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 28, 2019
Crisis planning takes priority in School Union 76

by Monique Labbe

Administrators with School Union 76 plan to work on updating crisis response plans at all schools in the union, including Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School, according to school principal Tara McKechnie.

A meeting was held on March 20 to discuss the plans currently in place, most of which are confidential and cannot be made public, and how to most efficiently update them to keep all students and staff safe and supported in a variety of crises.

McKechnie said that union administrators will work through the spring and summer to develop updated plans, with the intent to have them finished by the start of the next school year. The work will result in a plan for a variety of crisis situations that would then be modified and adjusted to each school’s resources and updated with local contacts.

Items discussed at the meeting were the value of having different templates to follow when critical incidents occur, the importance of identifying the stakeholders in a given situation and communicating with the primary stakeholders in the moment, and the value of having a prioritized list of actions to complete determined in advance to allow the crisis response team to focus on one action at a time.

The meeting was held to listen to feedback regarding a recent parent death in the interest of improving the processes in place, but was “sparsely attended,” said McKechnie.

Included in the intended future plans is to update contact information for responders on the island and from different agencies, depending on the type of crisis.

“Many of these contacts on the island are local people, who would be our first responders,” said McKechnie.

Contact information for any key consultants and experts that may be required in the midst of a crisis are already available in printed form in the DISES office and need to be kept up to date.

This was the first of several meetings in the planning process. Future meetings will be announced and made available to the public.