How do I prepare for going back to school during a pandemic?

Back-to-school season during a pandemic means you'll have to work harder to keep up with your education and take extra care of your health.

Follow health and safety rules

Wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance, and washing hands frequently is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you are physically in school make sure to follow these rules and find ways to get others to follow them too. If something doesn’t make sense, ask questions, and remember that it’s okay to feel frustrated; this is new for everyone. 

Be kind to yourself

There are many rules to follow and things are changing constantly. If it is taking longer to understand assignments, focus in class, or adjust to changes that’s okay; remind yourself that this situation is unique and nobody has prepared you for it. Do not expect yourself to be perfect, expect yourself to try your best. 

Create a positive study space

Whether it’s a space at the dining table or a separate room just for online classes, having a dedicated study space can provide structure among the chaos. Decorating the space so it’s fun and functional can be an enjoyable project and can include things like fidget toys in addition to school supplies. 

Create a list and keep a schedule

Whether you're studying in school or from home this year, being organized will help you get everything you need done. Create a list of things you need to be successful during the school year. The list can include school supplies, your favourite snacks and lunches, activities that you want to try, or self-care habits. Plan your week in advance and make sure to be mindful of deadlines. Be creative and share your tasks with your parents, teachers, and friends so they can support you. You can also try using organizing tools, like journals and calendars. 

Socialize and share your feelings

Going to school during a pandemic is a challenge that nobody is prepared for. It can be frustrating, depressing, sad, and confusing. It is important to care for yourself by sharing these feelings. A chat with friends and classmates to talk about the week can be useful, or you can find ways to communicate with your family about everyone’s experiences. Remember that you are not alone and what you're going through is stressful. If it feels like nobody in your life will understand you can access services like Kids Help Phone or LGBTYouthline for additional support. These are confidential services with options to text or call. You can also contact 211 to ask about services in your area, like support groups, places to get supplies, food banks, etc.

Take advantage of online services

There are many new resources available to help youth keep up with their education and take care of their mental health. To start, you can check out:

Stay up-to-date

The rules for going back-to-school are frequently changing. Keep up-to-date with new information by reviewing rules for Ontario as well as for your district’s school board. Even individual schools can have different rules so make sure to communicate with your teachers.


The most important thing for you to remember is to have patience. Have patience with yourself and with each other as you work through the school year together. Remember that even this pandemic is a learning and skill-building experience, so just because formal education isn’t going as expected, your learning has not stopped.