4 min Read

Back to School 2021

Even though it never truly felt like 2020 ended, we are nearing the start of the 2021-2022 school year. And while all schooling will continue to be in-person this September, the challenges that arose from COVID-19 are undoubtedly still present. Especially for children with disabilities and their parents, September can bring a variety of intersecting obstacles, some old and some new. Here’s an updated guide to supporting your child in their return to school this fall.


As B.C. anticipates a full return to in-person school, we will see the return of old rules as well as the introduction of new ones. Here’s a brief recap of some key ones. Go here to learn more.

  • Daily Health Check App:

With no more learning groups in the fall, B.C. has introduced a daily health check app that helps you assess and decide if your child should be staying home based on symptoms.

Download the App:

For Apple Devices

For Android devices

To access via browser:  https://www.k12dailycheck.gov.bc.ca/healthcheck?execution=e2s1

  • Homeschooling/Online Options:

If you’re unsure about the full return plan, homeschooling and online learning program options remain open even though there won’t be substitutes for in-person instruction.

Information regarding online learning

Information regarding homeschooling

For information about homebound education, contact your school.

  • Masks:

All students from grades 4-12 and all staff will be required to wear a non-medical mask in all indoor areas. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will continue to have the choice of wearing a mask or not. Exceptions will be made for those who can’t wear a mask due to medical conditions, certain educational activities that can’t be performed with them, or providing services for students with disabilities that require facial/visual cues.

  • Supports for students with disabilities or diverse abilities:

Students with disabilities or diverse abilities will receive the same support and resources that they did pre-pandemic. Students who require additional support will be identified with a needs assessment, a process that will ensure learning plans continue to align with goals identified in a student’s individualized education plan (IEP).


If your child struggles with wearing masks:

  • Get a mask with their favorite color, character, sports team, etc.
  • Find a mask that’s comfortable for them (e.g., consider face masks that tie around the hear, mask extenders, using headbands with buttons that attaches to the mask)
  • Prepare them by:
    • Explaining why it’s important to wear a mask in a positive way
    • Model and see how they react
    • Use visuals and stories to demonstrate how others are wearing masks
    • Take it step by step (e.g., have them touch the mask, feel the mask on their face, wear it for short periods of time, practice for a bit longer)
    • Take breaks, set rules, give rewards

Relieve anxieties about returning to school:

  • Discuss expectations for the new year and successes from the previous year
  • Visit the school to learn where classes are, walk the daily routine and discuss transition periods (e.g., between periods, lunch breaks, to/from home)
  • Try to meet teachers and administrators ahead of time
  • Talk with them often about school (e.g., what a day will look, what’s going to happen, who they’re going to meet, etc.)

Stay organized:

  • Organize IEP paperwork before school starts and keep them in sequential order
  • Have a set place at home for doing homework or placing school stuff
  • Keep a written log of communication with teachers and the school (teach your child to keep a lot too)
  • Keep a calendar or agenda of events and activities that your child can see and touch
  • Automate whatever you can (e.g., if you need to send a wellness form every morning, automate that email)

Some questions you can ask the school about their COVID policies:

  • How is social distancing being maintained?
  • Is there any sharing of school equipment?
  • What are the cleaning and sanitizing procedures?
  • What is the policy for using community spaces (e.g., playgrounds, gyms)
  • Are staff working in multiple places and classrooms?

If you are feeling anxious:

  • Try to avoid ‘what-if’ thinking and focus on what you can control
  • Don’t expect perfection from yourself
  • Reach out for help
  • Stay in constant contact with others supporting your child to help you feel proactive and remind you that you’re not alone

If your child is feeling anxious:

  • Be open with them; share what our plan is
  • Practice hand-washing and mask-wearing
  • Develop realistic expectations
  • Check-in constantly in a proactive way, not a worrisome way
  • Set daily routines

Stay safe and just do your best!