If any child in Barry County Schools suffers a traumatic event where a policeman, fireman or emergency medical technician is involved, that child’s school will get a “Handle With Care” notice by a secure e-mail the next school day.
All county law enforcement agencies, fire departments and ambulance services are part of the program, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said. The emergency service involved will send the e-mail to let the school officials know that the child may be upset and to watch for unusual behavior.
“This just opens up another line of communication,” Leaf said. It can be any kind of trauma, a sudden death in the family, a domestic situation with parents getting a divorce, or any other situation involving emergency service units.
The teacher is not told the particulars of an incident and the child isn’t aware they have a “Handle With Care” notice. “This gives teachers a heads up to watch for changes in behavior or a child acting out,” Leaf said.
Delton School Superintendent Kyle Corlett said the notices will go to the principal and counselor in the child’s building, who will notify the teacher of the student.
Delton has had just one notification that was a death in the family.
“We have a counselor in every building; they know our children pretty well; they will determine if a child needs any extra care. I think it depends on the situation,” Corlett said.
The schools has an excellent liaison officer from the sheriff’s office in Deputy Marti Horrmann and Barry Township Police Chief Mark Doster, “pops in from time to time and helps us a lot,” he said.
The five school districts in the county, Hastings, Thornapple Kellogg, Delton Kellogg, Maple Valley and Lakewood all participate.