Returning to school after many months away will require time to address the social and emotional needs of students as well as continue to provide ongoing support to students who need it.
From our student survey, we know that about half of students were concerned about getting used to school routines again. About one-third of students were concerned about getting used to in-person interactions with teachers and peers, not being able to interact with friends like they used to (35%), and coping with their fears or anxiety.
Also, one-quarter to one-third of students noted that the following would help them feel more comfortable at school:
- having a relaxing and calming space to go to in the school if feeling overwhelmed
- support for re-developing school routines
- support with social emotional learning skills
- additional information to support their mental health and well-being and the support of a Social Worker, Psychologist, Guidance Counselor, or Child and Youth Worker
All staff have a role to play in supporting students’ mental health and well-being. Building relationships and connections, offering support and building capacity of school-based staff will help ease the transition back to school and help meet the needs of students. Professional learning will be provided to staff to help identify students’ specific needs and appropriate tier 1 and 2 strategies during the return to school.
For students, we will provide a blended model of support with both in-person and virtual supports, including:
- Office hours, wellness clubs and social community circles
- Crisis support
- Clinical Counselling, as appropriate
There will also be support for students at transition points (returning to school, attending a new school, entering Grade 9, participating in e-learning) with re-engagement support and opportunities to be welcomed by and connected to other students.
Professional Support Services
Students will continue to be able to receive support from the TDSB’s occupational and physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers and speech and language pathologists. Consideration has been given to each area to determine how to support students and families in ways that meet health and safety measures if meeting physically, and also how to support students in a virtual environment.