Considerations for administrators

Module introduction

What the grief expert says
Lysa Toye, social worker, psychotherapist, talks about supporting grieving students and families.(3:22)Video transcript

“I think I speak for most of my staff when I say that we were all in complete shock. They were all looking to me for guidance and I wasn’t sure exactly how I could support them in the moment”. – Principal

As an administrator, you play an important leadership role in setting the tone for how your school responds to any death that impacts your staff and students and for shaping the grieving process of the entire school community. 

In some situations, a Crisis Response Team may be involved in providing direction and support to the grieving school community. However, even when a Crisis Response Team is involved, the Principal and Vice-principal still play an important role in providing leadership for the school. Your entire staff – educators, school counsellors, auxiliaries and support personnel – as well as parents and students will naturally look to you for guidance on how to respond to a death. 

This module is intended to help you to plan for and respond to the death of a student, one of their family members, or a staff member in your school. 

By completing this module, you will:

  • Gain an understanding of the importance of proactively developing and having in place a plan in the event of a death (student, student family or a staff member).
  • Discover various strategies for contacting and collaborating with the grieving family.
  • Explore strategies and tips to plan for when a student’s family member dies including contacting the family and offering the student, staff and administration ongoing support in the short and long term.
  • Discover various tips and strategies to plan for when a student is dying (anticipated death) and when this student has died including connecting with the family, and best practices for informing staff, students and students’ families.
  • Explore several ideas and considerations to plan for an unexpected death including death by suicide.
  • Learn some tips to help you plan how to support your staff when one of their fellow staff members has died.