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New policy would do away with memorials at schools

A proposed new policy in the Farmington School District could spell an end to permanent memorials to deceased classmates or staff members.

The policy, which board members will review two more times before taking any action, is meant to avoid the possibility that such memorials would pile up over time.

“School is a place for learning, and it’s supposed to be a hopeful place,” said Barb Duffrin, the district’s director of educational programs. “Even though at the time it might feel like we want to recognize the student or the staff member, we need to think about the effect over time.”

There is concern among the district’s counselors that a growing number of memorials could add secondary trauma for some students affected by the original loss. Living memorial items like trees or plants also present the challenge of needing ongoing care. A dead memorial tree could also create trauma for students, Duffrin said.

The new memorial policy would allow memorial events for large-scale incidents like natural disasters, but those would be coordinated through the district’s trauma response team to help students cope with their loss.

“We don’t want the secondary trauma for a student who might not have originally been affected,” Duffrin said.

The new policy does not affect any memorials currently in place in the district. It also does not prevent the creation of memorial scholarships.

School board members will discuss the proposed policy at least two more times before taking action.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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