Reopening Schools Post Disaster

America’s schools face unprecedented natural and human-made disasters. Read how trauma-informed educators are at the forefront of recovery.

Karen Gross, far left, engaged in post-session discussion at the Trauma-Sensitive Schools conference in Washington, D.C.

Disaster affects us all — directly and vicariously.

My topic was strategies for reopening schools all across the entire educational pipeline following a natural or human-made disaster — from hurricanes to floods to shootings, and yes, even events such as the Kavanaugh hearings. It is a topic on which I have worked, as in hands-on. Given the rise in disasters and the newfound interest in and focus on trauma, it is a topic that is not going away. Disasters affect us all — directly and vicariously.

We are more beautiful for being broken.

Sample of Kintsugi pottery by Haragayato, Wikimedia Commons

Trauma is not short-lived. Recovery isn’t easy or fast.

But, with all the strategies, I actually think the most powerful message for attendees is that trauma is not short-lived and recovery is neither easy nor fast. Indeed, we want speedy recovery. We want to move beyond to avoid the memories. But, the reality is that if we don’t process trauma, it lingers and its effects are profoundly negative. What’s more, the speed of processing depends on the person.



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Karen Gross

Author, Educator & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor