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Sandra Cantu's classmates in Tracy get counseling

Teachers and psychologists were brought in today to Sandra Cantu's elementary school to help saddened students and staff cope with the death of the 8-year-old.

At Jacobson Elementary School, a 660-student kindergarten-through-fifth-grade campus on the city's south side, substitute teachers were filling in for teachers who didn't feel up to working.

"We do have a number of teachers out today because of the situation - especially teachers who were close to Sandra or her family," said district spokeswoman Jessica Cardoza. "Everyone who knew Sandra said she was vibrant and happy. I know that every student at Jacobson knew Sandra and loved Sandra."

The little girl has an older sibling who attends Jacobson. On Tuesday, teachers, district psychologists and the school's counselors talked with all the students about the second-grader's death.

"We have seven psychologists at Jacobson Elementary and extra psychologists at other school sites," said Jessica Cardoza.

At Jacobson elementary, a staff meeting was held before school started to give teachers information on how to speak about Sandra's death with students, especially in the early grades. Each teacher in the district received a one-page letter giving general tips about how to talk about the young girl's death in the classroom and questions to ask students to see if they need further help.

"If they do need additional support, that is where the on-site counselors and psychologists come in," said Cardoza. "They are set up in libraries and conference rooms around the district."

A letter was being sent home to district families with talking points for parents to help their children deal with the situation. Among the points in the letter:

-- Talk honestly about the incident and share some of your own feelings.

-- Encourage children to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings.

-- Let children know that such incidents are not common and that Tracy schools are safe.

-- Seek help from the school psychologist if you are worried about a son or daughter's reaction to Sandra's death.

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