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All schools and districts leaders must be prepared to communicate about a crisis situation, although they may hope and pray that they will never have to do it.

In most cases, a school or district leader will learn about a crisis situation through a telephone call from someone in the school or from the police.

Here is a tip that is so obvious that it might be overlooked: Start by gathering all of the known facts.

When you first learn of a crisis situation… Get dates. Get times. Get names. Get locations. Get the who, what, where, when and how and write it down.

Ask who else knows about the situation and if the police have been contacted. If the police have been contacted, ask for the police officer’s name and contact information.

As you are listening, check your facts and ask for clarifications as needed. Before you hang up the phone, recite what you have learned. Although this course of action seems obvious, people have a tendency to shut down during a crisis.

When you are satisfied that you have all of the information, write down the time and date of the phone call.