Are we ready to deal with the trauma from the Coronavirus for our students and staff?

I spoke with our son and his wife (who are high school teachers) yesterday who live in Weschester County in New York and right next door to New Rochelle. Schools have closed and others are planning on closing. Our son and his wife shared that students are having difficulty thinking, they are worried, and all they can talk about is the virus. As our country is mitigating and trying to decrease the spread of the virus, many of our children are experiencing trauma for the first time while other children are just experiencing another level of trauma.

While we are making decisions to close and/or open schools, how to deliver instruction if we have to close schools for longer periods of time, sanitizing and cleaning our buildings, etc., we must also ask ourselves the following questions:

  • How are we going to address and support students at various age levels emotionally and behaviorally during and after this crisis for the short-term and potential long-term effects?
  • What information do we share with our students without scaring them?
  • How is our district going to provide support to our staff members who might be traumatized during this time?
  • How will we calm our school communities?

Trauma

There are many causes of trauma. In considering the COVID 19 virus, districts and campuses must be aware of the following scenarios that our students and staff may experience during these unprecedented times that can cause trauma (not meant to be all inclusive):

  • A sense of chaos
  • Death of a loved one
  • Chronically depressed family members
  • Separation of a parent
  • Disruptions in day-to-day lives that may have other consequences
  • Basic needs not being met 

Potential Responses to Trauma

Children and staff who truly experience a sense of trauma during this time may exhibit it in various ways. Some of our children will be experiencing trauma by internalizing those feelings and others will act out their feelings by exhibiting some of the following behaviors (not meant to be all inclusive):

  • Distrust
  • Withdrawal
  • Difficulty paying attention and/or retaining information 
  • Acting out behaviors
  • Appearing helpless, anxious, angry, or nervous 
  • Sense of uncertainty

Trauma Responsive School Components

Being a truly trauma-responsive school requires comprehensive training (required by HB18 in Texas 86th legislative session) for all staff. If your district has not provided that yet, here are some components that are included in trauma-informed campuses (not meant to be all inclusive):

  • School safety prevention plan that addresses how to handle trauma when schools experience natural disasters, death, suicide, etc.
  • Full-time counselors available to meet responsive needs of students experiencing trauma and providing classroom lessons on coping with changes from trauma and self-care.
  •  Well-defined Tier system for dealing with behaviors/emotions that may be exhibited due to trauma.
  • Educating and involving families and communities in understanding trauma.
  • Staff training on trauma-informed practices as well as how the brain and nervous system are impacted and react to trauma.

Trauma Responsive Teacher Practices

Many of the strategies that teachers should use with students experiencing trauma are really best practices that should be used daily with all students. Here are some of the identified trauma-informed practices (not meant to be all inclusive):

  • Be age appropriate in expectations for students emotions and behavior when schools reopen from being closed or are directly affected by the virus.
  •  Determine what support systems are available in your district that need to be in place for all students.
  • Ask your school counselor to teach or work with teachers to show stress management techniques such as relaxation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises.
  • Teach students self-affirmation statements to self-regulate anxiety, such as “I am in a safe place where I am being taken care of.”
  • Observe and reflect.
  • Provide a positive safe environment where students feelings are valued and recognized and never minimized.
  • Help students identify names for their feelings.
  • Guide students through what they can control and what they need to let go of –  if it is out of their control.
  • Stay calm.
  • Offer and allow students to sign up to visit with their professional school counselor as needed.

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Texas School Procedures
Trauma Resources for Subscribing Districts

6 Part Trauma Training for All Staff
Training Section>Campus Staff>Trauma

Debby Moore

CEO. Trainer & Product Developer

Debby Moore has had over 32 years’ experience in Texas Public School Education as a district administrator for Administrative and Student Services, as a campus administrator for elementary and secondary levels, as counselor for special and regular education at all levels, as a behavioral specialist, and as a regular and special education teacher. Although Debby retired in December of 2010, she continued to serve in several interim school district positions such as Director of Elementary Operations, COO of Human Resources, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, and Director of Student Services. In June 2013, Debby formed Texas School Procedures, LLC.

Responsibilities at the District administrative level included developing and overseeing district guidance and counseling programs, writing district regulations, forms, and letters, training and overseeing district discipline guidelines and other operational procedures for administrators, overseeing district safety programs, handling parent complaints and grievances, and chairing expulsion hearings. Over her years of service to public education and during retirement, she has presented staff development for teachers, counselors and administrators at local, regional, state, and national levels.

Debby has been married for 30+ years to a very loving and supportive husband. Her immediate family includes two sons, three inherited sons, one daughter through marriage, and six very special grandchildren. Debby loves spending time with their pets (Bailey, a rescued cocker spaniel, and LiLo, a rescued calico cat), researching, writing, and reading. Binge-watching various detective/crime series (particularly British) on Netflix has been a well-guarded secret to this point.

Rich Claypool

CFO and Operations

Rich has served in customer service and sales positions in various industries before joining Texas School Procedures from the very beginning in June of 2013. Rich was instrumental in developing the behind-the-scenes core set-up and operations of the company with company attorneys and establishing business procedures to ensure smooth operations and functioning of the company. He continues to serve in the capacity of managing all operational aspects of TxSP and as liaison to subscribing districts providing all “vendor” documents.

Rich is the proud father of one daughter, Dilyn, and will tell anyone that she is his number one priority. They enjoy being outdoors and doing anything athletic together such as swimming, hiking, running, biking, paddle boarding, fishing, camping, and kayaking. He is a very involved parent and always attends any school activity or parent conference and has supported her outside activities of karate, dance, basketball, and softball, to name a few.

Rich is also an advocate of animals and rescues his fur pets from organizations that take in forgotten animals off the streets. He currently has Kong (a “pitte”) and Bruiser (a “chiweenie”) that he adopted from South Side Street Dogs, a non-profit vegan Animal Rescue out of Houston, Texas.

Nancy Rouse

Customer Service and Website Administrator

Nancy Rouse is a retired Texas educator and Technology support staff member with 35 years in education. Her roles in Texas schools have been varied and include teaching, mentoring, instructional specialist/designer, and management of technology systems. In addition to educating district teachers in current software, she also became a subject matter expert on teacher web page development using Lotus Notes and became the District Lotus Notes Administrator and Webmaster. During this time, Nancy helped transition to a new email system as the Microsoft Exchange Administrator and helped usher in and manage a new phone system for the district as Microsoft Lync Administrator.

It was Nancy’s stent as District webmaster where she first met Debby Moore, a colleague. Debby was developing policies, regulations, and procedures for the school district and Nancy created a website to house the “Regs” and became invaluable in editing and posting the documents. In 2016, shortly before retiring, Nancy was again approached by Debby, this time to join TxSP to edit documents and help manage the new TxSP website. So impressed by the regulations and best practices that were being developed, Nancy has continued to support her in this capacity as a valued customer service representative and document and website manager.

Nancy has three grown sons, two daughters in law, and four grandchildren – three boys and finally, a girl. She enjoys her most precious gift, her family, and the time spent with them vacationing, hunting, fishing and laughing.

Tracy Laborde

Customer Service & Project Management

Tracy Laborde has over 20 years of professional communications, project management and client relations experience. A University of Texas at Austin graduate, Tracy left Texas and started her career in Atlanta, GA. There she worked at Turner Broadcasting in their educational outreach department where she supported taking CNN, and other Turner programming, and developing course curriculum and support material for schools across the country. Her final years in Atlanta were with Coca-Cola Enterprises where she was a communications manager for their change management team; focusing on a system-wide software implementation.

Tracy returned to Houston in 2006 and worked for University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center until 2018 where she spent most of her years building a project management team to support the MD Anderson Cancer Network, a program that collaborates with hospitals and health systems in Texas, the nation, and the world to improve the quality and accessibility of cancer care and research.

Currently, Tracy is on leave from TxSP and is enjoying traveling full-time with her husband, daughter and dog anywhere that the wind blows; or that her husband’s job takes them. Embracing every adventure, small or big, is what she and her family enjoy doing these days; and they do it all across the country living in an RV (aka tiny house on wheels).

Dr. Karin Holacka

Contributor, Consultant, and Trainer

Karin serves TxSP as a consultant and educational partner supporting with process design, training and district connections. She is the founder, owner, and chief consultant for BLUE Jean Educational Consulting with over 25 years of experience in public education. She has a reputation for being a visionary leader, strategic thinker and engaging facilitator.

Karin started her career as a classroom teacher for students in grades 5, 6 and ESL. However, a majority of her career (19 years) has been in educational leadership serving as an assistant principal, principal, executive director, area superintendent and superintendent. In addition to her years of service in a wide array of school districts, Karin has also held an executive leadership position within a regional education service center and is an adjunct university professor in the area of educational leadership. Karin has experienced opportunities ranging from school/district turnaround to facility planning and construction. However, her areas of interest and strength are in curriculum and instruction, leadership development, and organizational improvement and planning.

Karin has been married to her husband, Jim, for 23 years. They have 3 wonderful sons, 2 special daughters-in-law, and 1 perfect granddaughter. Karin loves dogs, movies, traveling, writing, and spending time with family and friends. Her favorite sport is soccer and hopes to one day fulfill her dream of being a published author.

César Castro

Spanish Translations

César I. Castro was born in Veracruz, Mexico and immigrated to Texas at the age of 12. One year later, he was the first in his family of four to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He graduated from Plano East Senior High School and attended Tarrant County Community College.

Besides being fluent in English and Spanish, César is also fluent in American Sign Language and has volunteered teaching the bible in the deaf community since 2010. He has worked for various school districts in office assistance administration and translation. He now has his own translation business and continues to support districts and Texas School Procedures in providing accurate Spanish translations so that parents can be partners in their student’s education and students have access to documents in Spanish while they are learning English.

At the age of 26 he married his beautiful wife, Monique Castro, a certified A.S.L. interpreter, and moved to Fort Worth, TX. Together they participate in the Local Design and Construction Department of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which builds and maintains Kingdom Halls (centers of worship) and aids in disaster relief efforts in the U.S. branch territory. Together, they have two puppies Sonny (Mut) and Jojo (Yorkie Pomeranian mix). They love camping trips and swimming at a lake, river, or beach.

Dr. Glenda Boyer

Contributor, Consultant, and Trainer

Dr. Boyer has worked as an educator, school counselor, student assistance coordinator, licensed counselor/supervisor, trainer/consultant, and adjunct teacher in DFW area with over 30 years of combined experience. She currently has a private practice in the Denton area, working with children, adolescents, and their families, as well as adults and couples. Consultation with educators, professional development for school counselors, and adjunct teaching at area universities are also a large part of her professional life. Glenda has been with Texas School Procedures from the beginning providing training and consultation to counselors and developing counseling presentations for the site.

Glenda’s passion is working with children and adolescents and consulting with others who share the same passion – sharing from her experience and learning the needs of counselors and their students in educational settings. Play interventions with children, hands-on activities for curriculum-based support groups, crisis response, suicide prevention, bullying prevention, and counselor self-care/burnout prevention are just a few of her current interests in working with counselors in school settings.

Personal time includes time with friends and family and a small family ranching operation. Glenda has two sons and one daughter as well as a daughter-in-law and son-in-law and five grandchildren. In her spare time, she maintains close to 400 acres in West Texas where she is the proud “parent” of 30 to 40 head of cattle.

Dr. Sandra McCoy-Jackson

Contributor, Consultant & Trainer

In 2017, Dr. McCoy-Jackson became the Superintendent in Sanger ISD. Under the leadership of Dr. McCoy-Jackson: In 2018, all campuses achieved “Met Standard” while earning 4 Distinctions and earning a “C” rating: In 2019, the district received a “B” rating. In addition, Sanger ISD was selected by the Texas Education Agency to receive a Pre-K Grant for $750K.

Before becoming Superintendent, she served as an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in Duncanville ISD and Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in Brazosport ISD.

Dr. McCoy-Jackson also held the position of Director of Elementary Student Services, Director of Student Community Partnership, Principal and Assistant Principal in Allen ISD. Dr. McCoy-Jackson received her under-graduate degree from East Texas State University, now Texas A & M – Commerce, in Elementary Education/English.  Dr. McCoy-Jackson has also obtained 2 Master’s Degrees from National-Louis University – Chicago, Illinois one in Reading and the other in administration. Dr. McCoy-Jackson was awarded her doctorate in Educational Leadership in December 2008 from Nova Southeastern University – Fort Lauderdale, Florida.