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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 54
POLICY CODE: EBCA
TO: Superintendents of Schools
CC: Commissioner and Adjutant General Joseph E. Tinkham II, Department of Defense, Veterans, and Emergency Management
FROM: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner
DATE: March 21, 2003
RE: Information on Our Country’s Alert Status and Coping With Current World Events
These are times of high anxiety for all Americans as we see news reports, hear the voices of people around us, and worry about our loved ones and our country. In an effort to be responsive to the needs of our school leadership, their staff, and the students and families they serve across the State, I hope you find the following information helpful.
First, we have received requests to clarify what a “RED” alert would mean for Maine schools. Remember, the country now has a system of color-coded alerts, with red representing the most serious. Please know that I have consulted with Commissioner and Adjutant General Joseph E. Tinkham II, of the Department of Defense, Veterans, and Emergency Management; who has advised as follows:
o At the present time, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, has stated that he can imagine no circumstance where a blanket "RED" alert would be put out covering the entire nation. Likewise, General Tinkham cannot envision a realistic scenario when a "RED" alert targets the entire State of Maine.
o A “RED” alert is more likely to be site specific, based on detailed intelligence received by the Department of Homeland Security surrounding a particular area or a particular site in this country.
o Any “RED” alert will be followed by specific instructions for that area. If an alert of this nature is issued in Maine, we will immediately contact any schools located in the alert area and will pass along a course of action.
If you need further clarification about this please contact my office at 624-6620.
In addition, you may find the information on our Coordinated School Health Program website helpful www.mainecshp.com please find posted four documents from the National Mental Health Association that provide guidance for assisting children, families, college students, and colleagues in the workplace in coping with war and terrorism. The following websites may also be helpful:
o National Mental Health Association at 800-969-NMHA (6642) or www.nmha.org
o National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at www.ncptsd.org/facts/disasters/fs_children_disaster.html
Please share this information with all health care professionals in your district, i.e., health educators, school nurses, guidance counselors, social workers, and others who can help link these resources to those that need them. For further information, please contact your local Mental Health Association.
The continued leadership of you and your staff in providing for the health and well-being of Maine students and their families is greatly appreciated. Thank you.