Waco: Crisis team responds when tragedy strikes area schools

A team of counselors is prepared to respond when tragedy strikes area schools. (File)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) According to the Region 12 Education Service Center, so far this year there have been 20 fatalities in Central Texas involving either school employees or students.

One way schools respond when tragedy strikes is to use counselors from other schools, organized by the Region 12 Education Service Center.

"We need to just keep school going for the students because that normalcy helps students work through their grief," says Rapoport Academy counselor Terri Bukowski.

Jeni Janek, the service center’s counseling/crisis response/school safety coordinator, says there are signs the counselors look for to see if a student is not properly handling a crisis situation.

"The empty desk of a teacher or a student pierces the heart of a community,” she said.

"Sleeping too much. Not sleeping enough. Too much eating or not eating enough, not able to function and when that barriers crossed certainly there's going to be additional need for more support," Janek said.

Students often express disbelief and say they’re worried about the parents and family of a classmate who’s died, Janek said.

They don't want their friends or classmates to be forgotten and I've heard that multiple times ‘I just don't want them to be forgotten.’ So we tell them to bring something from home that will remind them of their friend and let it be a part of the school,” Bukowski said.

"When they come to the school they need to know things are the same even though they are not the same."