EVART — Just one day before school was let out for the summer, Evart Elementary was preparing for the worst after an accident on M-66 took the life of one of their students.
The 6-year-old from Evart was walking along M-66 south of 7 Mile Road on Monday with another boy when the 6-year-old ran out into oncoming traffic.
He was hit after a southbound truck hauling logs attempted to avoid the boy. Neither the driver nor the other boy were injured in the accident.
After hearing the news on Monday, Evart Elementary School Principal Sarah Bailey began calling to put a response team together.
“I called the central office ... and said that I really needed somebody to come and help me. She had people here within 10 minutes,‘ said Bailey.
But at first, Bailey did not know how to handle the situation or who to get in contact with to help her help the elementary staff and students on such short notice.
“It’s a little challenging to know how to respond appropriately with the time we had,‘ she said.
The standard procedure in responding to a tragedy such as this would give the school 24 to 72 hours to respond, get the help that they need and inform parents, said Bailey. Bailey did not even have the minimum time frame as the school year was quickly coming to a close.
Overall, Bailey wanted to give the parents as much time as she could to help their children with the aid of the school.
“Because today is the last day of school and because a lot of the children aren’t aware yet, we wanted to be sensitive to having parents respond to this first rather than the school responding to it first as far as explaining it,‘ she said.
Tuesday morning, kids were greeted by comfort dogs and a crisis team if they needed it.
“I think having the comfort dogs has been really good, I think some of (the students) think that this is the last day of school and we brought in dogs,‘ said Evart Superintendent Shirley Howard.
While some students did not fully understand what was going on, some were dealing with what they saw on the news Monday night and are dealing with it at different levels.
“What I am finding, because it was on the news last night, they know a child died but they don’t know who the child is, so it is more of a reaction to someone (their) age experiencing a tragedy,‘ said Bailey.
Though the school was responding to the accident, they did not want to be the ones to explain everything to the students and wanted to respect the parents who may have wanted to explain the situation to their child.
“I think many at this age, they really don’t know. Some have never dealt with a death in their family at all. So that is why we wanted to be so respectful because some parents don’t want the school to be the one to do anything or explain that,‘ said Howard. “Others would welcome that because they would rather have the schools do that. But we didn’t have time to get that all organized.‘
Going into the summer, the school is sending home information on how to further help their child should they need it, said Bailey, but the immediate future has no plan.
“We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t even know what is going to happen in the immediate future,‘ said Howard.