KITCHENER -- With the return to the classroom as early as next week, some students, parents and teachers are expressing anxiety.

Back-to-school anxiety is common any year, but it's likely made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm nervous but happy," Grade 2 student Soul Shadd said about going to school.

Her brother Zion, however, is more concerned.

"I don't want to get coronavirus," he said.

Zion, who's 11 years old, said he's nervous about what to expect.

"Out of nowhere, we aren't going to school for six months, then suddenly we have to go back and everything's changed and completely different," he said.

Their mom, Melissa Melnychuk, is also feeling uneasy.

"As any parent sending their children into an unknown situation, it's scary," she said. "Multiple times (Zion's) repeating he's not ready, he doesn't want to go to school, he's scared, he's nervous."

Child therapist Tania DaSilva said back-to-school anxiety is common and can show up through a number of symptoms.

"Are you noticing sleep changes, habits that are changing as well?" DaSilva said. "Are we noticing behavioural outbursts or emotional outbursts?"

She said parents should listen to their kids, validate their feelings and assure them that they will be safe.

"If our kids are worrying about something throughout the week, they know there will be a time and place to address this together," DaSilva said.

Parents and students aren't the only ones feeling the stress about the return to school.

"Teachers are still waiting to find out what classes they will teach," said Greg Weiler, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Waterloo Region. "There's more that needs to happen than there is time for it to happen and it's forcing a readjustment for everybody."

Some students in Waterloo Region's public and Catholic school boards will start their school year next week, with varying schedules for grades within elementary and secondary schools.