January 27, 2023
As you may be aware, this past week we received voicemail threats directed to three HSD schools. Our students’ safety, mental health, and well-being are a priority, and threats to schools are taken very seriously. We continue to work with the RCMP and support their investigation.
We also recognize that such incidents may cause anxiety for some children and that counselling support may be necessary. Divisional social workers and school counsellors will be available at the affected schools next week to provide support as needed.
The following guidance may also be helpful for parents/caregivers:
- Listen and acknowledge all feelings by taking the time to hear what your child is saying and responding to their worries. This discussion would be best if it occurs in a supportive environment where there is no judgement and you can sit without distractions. When children ask questions, use age-appropriate language and a calm and reassuring tone of voice. Your child needs to feel safe and know that their home environment will remain stable with a regular routine.
- Limit media exposure and be involved in their use of technology (e.g., cell phones, tablets, iPods, computers, etc.). Be mindful of your discussions regarding these events in the presence of children, and be aware that children often listen when you don’t think they are.
- Provide factual information about what your children have observed or experienced, taking into account the age and level of understanding of your children. Do not speculate.
- Parents should be aware that being overly protective of their children is a normal response. Sometimes a natural reaction for a parent is to keep their child home or avoid talking about this event; however, this will intensify the feelings of anxiety your child may be experiencing.
- Some common reactions may include school avoidance, avoiding talking about their feelings, losing sleep or having nightmares, a sense of helplessness, fear, anger and a heightened sense of vulnerability.
- As much as possible, don’t allow adult emotions to negatively affect a child’s sense of security.
- Reassure children that their feelings of vulnerability will subside with time, but if the feelings don’t subside, to let you know, and you will get them help.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) or principal to arrange for support. Any questions regarding the investigation should be directed to the RCMP.
To those parents/caregivers of students attending Steinbach schools and Kleefeld School, please monitor your email this weekend for additional correspondence. We will send a follow-up email on Sunday evening to confirm whether affected schools will reopen on Monday.
Shelley Amos, Superintendent-CEO
Hanover School Division