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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
City schools re-open with counselling
Police near Stuyvesant High School,
Police near Stuyvesant High School, which remains shut
Most of New York City's 1,100 schools - closed on Wednesday following the attack on the World Trade Center - were opening again on Thursday.

Staff were being briefed on how to discuss what happened with their pupils.

But all schools below 14th Street in Manhattan - the area closest to the disaster - remain closed.

The city's schools chancellor, Harold Levy, said no alternative arrangements were being made for students attending schools in that area for the time being.

Other schools were re-opening to pupils two hours later than their usual start times.

Staff were asked to report for work as normal. The time before students arrived was being used to prepare for crisis counselling and acquaint them with discussion guidelines.

Washington victims

In Washington DC, three pupils and three teachers from elementary and middle schools were among the 64 people killed in one of the hijacked planes, American Airlines Flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon.

school memorial service
A memorial service at a high school in North Carolina - one of many
They had been on their way to California for an educational field trip.

The pupils were all aged 11.

Memorial services were being held on Thursday afternoon.

The DC board of education president, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, said they had not died in vain.

"They will forever be the vehicles through which we in the public school system remain committed to teach against hatred and violence."

'Difficult times'

Among those most affected in New York were pupils in schools in districts facing Manhattan, who saw the planes crash into the twin towers.

"The days and weeks ahead will be difficult and trying," Mr Levy said in a letter to school administrators.

"I am confident that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to help students and staff with the problems that will arise within your communities."

The state commissioner of education, Richard Mills, said life should be kept as normal as possible for pupils but they should be encouraged to talk about their feelings.

"Try to send positive messages to staff that they have the skills to handle this crisis," he said.

But there might be adults who struggled with this task, so plans should be made to support them.

Counselling advice

The National Association of Elementary School Principals recommended that schools ask families to try to limit children's access to the constant media reporting of "this terrifying event".

The National Association of School Psychologists, which has 22,000 members, has provided information about ways to help children begin recovering from "this senseless act of violence".

It also advised not dwelling on the scale of the tragedy, especially with young children.

Parents and school staff could help children cope by establishing a sense of safety and security.

Later, the process might even be used as a learning experience.

Adults should try to be calm and avoid appearing anxious or frightened themselves, and reassure children that their own, ordinary buildings were not at risk.

"Remind them that trustworthy people are in charge," it said.

"Explain that the government emergency workers, police, firefighters, doctors, and even the military are helping people who are hurt and are working to ensure that no further tragedies occur."

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Education
Children 'need to talk' about attacks
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