About 540 River Valley High School students and teachers have sought help after alleged murder of Sec 1 student

When school resumed on July 21, River Valley High School teachers called students who were not in school to check on how they were doing.
When school resumed on July 21, River Valley High School teachers called students who were not in school to check on how they were doing. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - About 540 River Valley High School staff and students have sought psychological support after a Sec 4 student allegedly killed a Sec 1 boy on campus on July 19.

In a ministerial statement delivered in Parliament on Tuesday (July 27), Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that 98 Ministry of Education (MOE) specialists and school counsellors trained in psychological first aid and trauma management provided additional support to the school.

The day after the incident - a non-school day - a "Caring Actions in Response to an Emergency" post was set up in the school to provide students and staff who needed immediate help to walk in for support, said Mr Chan.

Noting that the incident has had "a profound impact" beyond the school, Mr Chan added that he and other senior MOE colleagues met 350 principals from primary schools to junior colleges the day after the incident.

He said: "We discussed the situation with them and shared with them the resources they could tap to identify students and staff who may display signs of distress so that they can be encouraged to seek help."

When school resumed on July 21, River Valley High School teachers called students who were not in school to check on how they were doing. Students and teachers who needed time-off were also granted leave.

Responding to Mr Patrick Tay (Pioneer) on why there was no “timeout” for the school, Mr Chan said this option was discussed. But the consensus was that it was best for students and staff to come together, take stock of the situation and support one another, rather than let individuals grieve alone at home.

Those who needed time off to grieve were granted leave, he added.

Master teachers from MOE were deployed to take over some classes. Supported by MOE specialists and counsellors, teachers also checked in with students to provide them a safe space to share their thoughts and feelings.

"Most heartening, within the school community, the students initiated their own small acts of kindness," said Mr Chan.

He cited how some students distributed small gifts and snack packs while others sent encouraging notes and sweet treats.

"Students are looking out for their teachers too and urging them to seek help where needed," he added.

Commending the School Advisory Committee, Parent-Teacher Association, parents and alumni for rallying around River Valley High School, he said: "All these speak volumes of the compassion and strength of the River Valley High School community."