The legislature acknowledges that secondary traumatic stress, also called compassion fatigue, is a natural but disruptive set of symptoms that may result when one person learns firsthand of the traumatic experiences of another. Symptoms of secondary traumatic stress may include feelings of isolation, anxiety, dissociation, physical ailments, and sleep disturbances. In addition, those affected by secondary traumatic stress may experience: Changes in memory and perception; alterations in their sense of self-efficacy; a depletion of personal resources; and disruption in their perceptions of safety, trust, and independence.
Secondary traumatic stress may be experienced by teachers, school counselors, administrators, or other school staff. Everyday these school staff work with students experiencing trauma and loss. In addition, many students have experienced additional trauma due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on themselves and their families.
The legislature finds that secondary traumatic stress is preventable and treatable. Therefore, the legislature intends to require school districts to adopt a policy and procedure to prevent and address secondary traumatic stress in the workforce and to make resources on secondary traumatic stress publicly available.
The office of the superintendent of public instruction must publish on its website links to resources, self-assessments, and best practices for educators and local policymakers to prevent and address secondary traumatic stress in the workforce. The office of the superintendent of public instruction must collaborate with the Washington state school directors' association, the educational service districts, and the school employees' benefits board created in RCW 41.05.740 and provide links to any resources on secondary traumatic stress available through these organizations.
The Washington state school directors' association shall develop or revise, and periodically update, a model policy and procedure to prevent and address secondary traumatic stress in the workforce.
The model policy and procedure must include the following elements:
A commitment to support mental health in the workplace;
Promotion of a positive workplace climate with a focus on diversity and inclusion;
Establishment of a district-wide workforce mental health committee with the following functions:
Share secondary traumatic stress, stress management, and other mental health resources and supports available through the office of the superintendent of public instruction, the educational service districts, and the school employees' benefits board created in RCW 41.05.740;
Share links to a secondary traumatic stress self-assessment tool and any associated resources; and
Report to the school district board of directors at least once per year with a summary of committee activities;
Regular assessment of district-level and school building-level implementation of the policy and procedures that includes input from the workforce; and
Provision of appropriate resources and training to schools and staff for continuous improvement.
The model policy and procedure developed under this section must be posted publicly on the Washington state school directors' association's website by August 1, 2021. Updates to the model policy and procedure must be posted publicly within a reasonable time of development.
By the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, each school district must adopt, or amend if necessary, policies and procedures that, at a minimum, incorporate all the elements described in subsection (2) of this section. School districts must periodically review their policies and procedures for consistency with updated versions of the model policy and procedure.