Discussions about the threats

Discussions - Sent evening - Friday, 9/15/17

Dear Smith Valley Families;

Unfortunately, I don't have email addresses for all families.  If you receive this, and you know someone who did not, please share it with them.  Rather than a voice message with this much information, this message is going out as e-mail only.

Our community has certainly had an unusual week.  Flathead Valley schools were closed Thursday & Friday due to threats received by several area administrators. We worked strategically with law enforcement in order to ensure the safety and welfare of our students and staff. Although frustrating to not know specific information, details must be withheld in order to permit the best investigation possible.  Thank you for your understanding.

It has been suggested that we share information with families on recommended ways to talk with children and adolescents during challenging situations like this. The following may help guide your conversations and provide other ways to support your child:  
  • ​Remain calm and reassuring. Manage your own emotions.
  • Assure child(ren) that they are safe, and that adults are working to protect everyone.
  • Tell the truth. Share age appropriate factual information. For example, "Some schools received threats in e-mails and texts."
  • Avoid having conversations in front of your child(ren) where you or others are voicing guesses about what has happened and whether the officials made the right choices or not.  Everyone is doing their best to handle an awkward situation with safety and grace. 
  • Inform your child(ren) when there is new official/substantiated information, and discuss age appropriate details with your child(ren).
  • Encourage questions. Create opportunities to talk.
  • Validate your child(ren)'s feelings, and their need to talk about the situation.
  • Reassure your child(ren) that it is normal to have different feelings about situations such as this.
  • Ask your child(ren) if they have any ideas about what you could do together to help them feel better.  Emphasize family connections.
  • Create opportunities for exercise and outdoor play. (especially since we have a less smoke!)
  • Stick to as many of your normal routines as possible.
  • Make sure that your child(ren) are getting enough sleep.
  • Minimize media exposure, especially social media. Remember that Facebook posts may not contain factual information, and when your child(ren) has/have seen or heard false information, do your best to dispel rumors.
  • When we return to school, staff will be available to discuss student questions individually or in groups, as needed to promote positive coping and problem solving skills.
  • Let your child(ren)'s teacher(s) know if they were particularly traumatized by the school cancellations this week, and what specifically caused them the most angst.
Thank you for your patience. If there has not been a news break from law enforcement before Sunday afternoon, I will contact you around 6 pm on Sunday, September 17 with an update on any information that they can share with school leaders at that time.  

Additional Resource - Helping traumatized children