After an eight year-old Missoula girl was killed in an accident over the holidays, KGVO reached out to MCPS Communications Director Hatton Littman on the policies in place to help young students deal with such a tragedy.

“We have a great community of a support within our school district and within the larger community of Missoula, so we call upon them,” said Littman. “We always make sure that if we experience a tragic event, whether that’s the death of a student or a staff member, or just a very serious crisis that involves school safety or something else that happens at the school, we follow a really consistent procedure in terms of providing support after the fact.”

Littman expanded on the resources that are available to students and their families.

“That includes a crisis team at each school that meets to consider what the statement should be to every classroom, and that’s always an age-appropriate statement explaining the issue and what happened, so we make sure we share the facts,” she said. “Then, it involves adding additional counselors, and those can be school counselors within the school district, our social workers and our school psychologists, and it can also include resources from the community, like Tamarack Grief Resources.”

Littman said each step in the process has been thoroughly researched and thought out to provide the best services to the students, their parents and the school.

“It’s  unfortunate that we have to plan for terrible events that occur in our lives, but it’s all very intentional and it’s been led by our school counselors, our school psychologists, people who have been trained to ask ‘how do we provide support to both our students and our staff after a horrible event.”

The young girl who was killed over the holidays was a student at Missoula’s Hawthorne Elementary School.