Chapter 2: When a family member is dying

Making a plan with the family and student

What the educator says
Sue Massaad, elementary school principal, talks about the importance of identifying a key contact person for the family.(3:22)Video transcript

“It was good we had a plan in place. It was hard when the call came in that Sanjit’s father had died but at least I knew exactly who to call to come pick him up and that I wasn’t to share what had happened until after he was dismissed and picked up”. – Teacher 

Click on the arrows for some tips on making a plan with the family and student.

Initially, older students may prefer that parents have less contact with their teachers. Encourage parents to talk with their child about why information-sharing with the school is important – for example, to create a supportive environment or allow for academic accommodations when/if necessary. 

It’s best to make plans about some things early on rather than when a death is imminent, and the family is likely to be experiencing heightened stress. Encourage the family to make a plan with the student about their wishes at or near the time of death. 

Click on each arrow to view some considerations when planning with the family and student.




Make a plan for continuing communication with the family. This helps to ensure that you and they are sharing information as agreed and maintaining a consistent approach in supporting your student. 

Notify the rest of the school staff of any relevant details of this plan, including the identity of anyone that has been designated to pick up the student when death is imminent or has occurred.