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Returning to school during COVID-19

By Vanessa Racine, social medias coordinator

The summer holidays are drawing to a close. Routine and a stricter schedule await the entire family, and especially your child. Returning to school doesn’t necessarily have to be stressful, particularly during the pandemic. Here are some tips to help you get through this important transition smoothly.
 

Health and safety for school-aged children


The prospect of going back to school is just around the corner here in Canada, and detailed government plans have been released for each province. Yet many parents have questions, and some are concerned about how this may affect their child. Given the continued risk of spreading the virus, is going back to school safe? That’s a very legitimate question.
 
A young child walking with a backpack on.According to the World Health Organization, studies show that, both in Canada and in other countries, children with COVID-19 most often experience mild illness and have low hospitalization rates. Additionally, fatalities among children with COVID-19 have been very rare around the world. For more information, visit this section of their website.
 

Back to school: a source of stress


It’s normal for kids and parents to feel a little stressed, as is always the case during a “normal” start to the school year. Although it’s a return to a familiar environment, it involves adapting to changes and new measures (which can, admittedly, be restrictive). A number of factors can also add an additional layer of stress:
  • uncertainties surrounding the virus;
  • health concerns for the child or their family members;
  • changes in routine and the way things work (in the classroom, on the playground, at daycare, on the school bus, etc.).
In a situation as unique as the coronavirus pandemic, your level of stress will depend heavily on your individual perceptions and circumstances. If you want your child to cope well with the stress of going back to school, it’s essential that you do the same first!
 

Preparing your child for returning to school


Here are some helpful tips:
 
  • Focus on the positives: Approach going back to school as good news — it means seeing friends and teachers again, getting back into a routine, etc.
  • Think ahead: A time crunch is a major stressor. To make life easier and avoid having to rush, don’t wait until the last minute. Purchase school supplies (and clothing) several weeks before school starts. Surf the sales, and you’ll reduce your financial stress, too!
  • Have a game plan: A few days before school starts, go over the new school-day routine with your child.
  • Establish clear and simple rules for things like wake-up times and bedtimes, getting ready, and homework. Tread carefully, though: an overly rigid schedule could cause unnecessary pressure to perform.
  • Adopt a positive attitude: Confidence, just like stress and anxiety, is often passed from parent to child. Your child watches you, and your reactions and behaviour influence how they perceive events and the emotions and feelings that result. The start of the school year is a happy event that shouldn’t feel threatening. Through your attitude, show your child that there’s no need to worry.
  • Listen to your child: Kids need their return to the classroom to be joyful, peaceful and harmonious. Signs that your child is having a hard time can include fatigue, irritability or mood swings, difficulty sleeping, and withdrawal. You know your child better than anyone, so keep your eyes and ears open so that you can intervene promptly if needed.
  • Lastly, it’s obviously very important that your child is familiar with COVID-19 prevention measures and follows them closely (e.g. washing their hands, coughing into their elbow, social distancing).
Wishing all families a happy and healthy back-to-school season!
 

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