January 28, 2021
It is with sadness that I inform you of the following death within our Weeping Water family. Cassie Lyons, Business Manager, suffered a medical emergency on Tuesday, January 26th. She was declared brain dead on Wednesday, January 27th.
We all should expect and try to understand that there will be a variety of emotions and responses to what has occurred. The most important thing we can do is to be supportive and encourage an open expression of feelings. At Weeping Water Public School, we have implemented a plan responding to this tragic event focused on helping our students and their families get back to regular learning and everyday activities as soon as possible. This plan has evolved from the district’s experience with death in the past and the advice of mental health professionals from the community.
Our teachers and staff have been briefed on our plans and have received training and guidelines for discussing death and reactions to it. There will be district personnel available to students who need special attention and support. We will try to maintain as normal a routine and structure as the situation and people allow, and we encourage you to do the same.
We encourage you to talk with your child. How we, as adults, manage ourselves serves as an important model for helping children handle tragedies like this. It is important that they know they are loved and supported as they talk about their feelings.
You may want to consider the following when talking with your child:
- Tell the truth. Talk about death vs. “going to sleep/passed away”. Explain the situation.
- Allow for your child to talk about feelings. If this is the first loss your child has experienced, your child may not know how to respond and will be looking for your guidance.
- Affirm all expressions. It’s okay to express feelings honestly. Tolerate the expressions rather than dismissing them or discouraging the expression of feelings.
- Encourage written expressions such as notes, letters, pictures to the family, etc.
- Reaffirm that your child is safe and that your child is loved.
- Affirm that your child’s reaction is normal and you understand the way the child feels.
- Watch for signs of trouble such as aggression, withdrawal, etc
- Help the children return to a normal routine as soon as possible.
Open communication between parents and children is very important. Give reassurance to your child. If you think your child is having a particularly difficult time dealing with this situation, please contact us. We have resources available to help us in dealing with this situation.
Experiencing, witnessing, or even hearing of a traumatic incident such as this may affect a child or adult in a variety of ways; therefore, it is very important that students and teachers be given ample opportunities to ask questions and to talk about their reactions. For some students a death of someone they know may remind them of some other loss in their lives. For others, this may be their first encounter with death.
When reacting to a traumatic incident, students may display behaviors such as the following:
- Cling closely to adults
- Display regressive behaviors
- Appear not to be affected
- Think about it privately
- Ask a lot of questions
- Appear frightened
- Appear agitated and angry
- Appear sad and withdrawn
- Display difficulty sleeping
- Stomach aches and/or headache
We have arranged a team of counselors and crisis team members to be available throughout the day at school to provide emotional support for our students. If you have special counseling concerns or would like additional support for your child, please call us at 402-267-2445.
Our deepest sympathies go to Cassie’s family and friends. We care deeply for all involved.
Weeping Water Superintendent