Our View: School district’s crisis response on target

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Editorial Board, May and June 2013

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Tom Ross, reporter

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At Issue

Dealing with crisis

Our View

The Steamboat Springs School District’s response to Asher’s death was professional, compassionate and immensely helpful.

The community suffered a terrible tragedy last week with the shooting death of 9-year-old Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, by all accounts a well-liked boy with a zest for life and all things Steamboat.

There simply aren’t words to describe the emotions so many of us have felt during the past four days, and it’s unlikely any details that will be brought to light in the days, weeks and months to come will make any real sense of the horror that took place in Stagecoach on Wednesday.

If there’s any solace to be had, it’s in the superb response by the Steamboat Springs School District, area mental health professionals and everyday parents and residents who made incredible efforts last week to help fellow community members, including our youngest residents, cope with a tragedy of this magnitude.

The school district’s crisis management team kicked into gear early Wednesday, shortly after school officials were first notified of Asher’s death. By late Wednesday morning, most Soda Creek Elementary School parents had been contacted and told to come to the school, where they were briefed on Asher’s death and given advice on how to discuss the incident with their children, many of whom were Asher’s friends. A subsequent memo from the district to all parents outlined strategies for talking to children about Asher’s death and detailed the stages of grief experienced by children at various ages.

The district made counselors as well as Steamboat Mental Health and Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association professionals available to students and staff during the day Thursday. Finally, the district hosted a Thursday night meeting during which school counselors and Steamboat Mental Health professionals could address the situation with parents and offer additional guidance.

We’ve heard from school employees and other adults in the community about how the support of the district as well as that offered by colleagues, parents and even the children themselves helped them manage through the pain and sorrow of an extremely difficult week.

It’s not the first time the school district’s crisis management plan has gone into effect and, unfortunately, it won’t be the last. But in a week filled with heartache, the community should take comfort in the professionalism and the responsiveness of the Steamboat Springs School District’s handling of a terrible situation.

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