February 15, 2019
Dear Meadowvale Village Public School Families:
It is with great sadness that I write this letter to inform you of the tragic death of grade 5 student Riya Rajkumar. As you may already have heard in the news media, Riya died tragically overnight. Police released her name to the public late yesterday evening.
This tragedy has brought tremendous sadness to the students and staff at Meadowvale Village Public School. Members of the Peel District School Board's Critical Incident Response Team have been at the school today to provide support to Riya's friends and classmates, as well as other students and staff. The counsellors will remain here as long as they are needed.
Riya was a well-liked student, and her death is deeply felt by everyone at the school. Even students who did not personally know Riya will also be affected by this tragedy. Here are some ways you can help your child deal with the grief and trauma:
- Acknowledge the emotional upset.
- Be available to your child. If you don't know the right thing to say, just listen and validate. Acknowledge that we don't always have answers to why these things happen.
- Provide a reassuring environment in which your child feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings.
- Encourage your child to experience their emotions in the way that's most comfortable for them. Some people are open about their feelings, while others prefer not to talk about them or may only want to talk to their peers.
- Share an experience you might have had dealing with stressful emotions and what helped you cope.
- Help your child understand that it's not helpful to engage in speculation and rumours.
- Encourage your child to engage in self-care activities, for example, ensure they are eating nutritious meals, getting good sleep and engaging in some form of physical activity.
- Encourage your child to follow normal routines as much as possible. Offer them practical support—like helping with homework and catching up on assignments.
- Some children react with hostility and anger. Try not to take any outbursts personally. Help your child channel any blame, anger or need for retaliation into productive activities.
- Seek support from a medical practitioner, if necessary. In case of emergency, please go directly to your closest hospital, i.e. Credit Valley Hospital.
Be aware of signs that your child needs additional support to deal with this tragedy. Warning signs include: prolonged physical or psychological distress (lack of appetite, sudden weight gain, persistent aches and pains, continued anxiety, apathy, depression or fearfulness), becoming violent towards self or others, or decline in school performance. Please contact me if you would like to speak with a school social worker.
Our hearts go out to Riya's friends and loved ones. Our flags are at half-mast to honour her memory. We have set up a memorial table in the foyer where the school community can go to write messages of remembrance and condolence. As always, please contact me at the school at 905-564-5735, if you have questions.