KITCHENER -- The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) has compiled guidelines on the best way to talk to kids as they prepare to head back to school.

Classes are scheduled to begin again on Sept. 8. The WRDSB's back-to-school plan includes cohorts for elementary school students, quad-mestering for high school students and mandatory masks for students between Grades 4 and 12.

Students and caregivers can also choose not to return to the classroom in the fall, since the school board is also offering distance learning.

WRDSB Psychological Services has released a guide to help parents and caregivers communicate with their children, and make them feel calm and secure about going back to school. The guidelines will also help students throughout the year, the school board says.


The school board says heading back to school after a summer break can be hard, but it might pose even more challenges this year after the extended break.

Ontario schools shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WRDSB's guidelines suggest responding to questions and any mixed feelings with a "calm tone of optimism and adaptability."

Psychological Services says parents should be mindful of the fact that children may see possible danger as the school year approaches. The guide suggests using calm language, rather than the "language of fear and safety."


The WRDSB recommends that before talking to your children, parents and caregivers should ask themselves a series of questions.

The list they created, in consultation with psychologist Deborah MacNamara, includes:

  • Will our kids feel secure?
  • What can I do if my child feels nervous?
  • What will children need to help them adapt?
  • What conditions are needed to support learning?


Even without a pandemic, the school board says some kids have a harder time returning to school than others.

Parents can use the guidelines to learn more about the nature of anxiety.

The WRDSB's resources say parents should help children recognize, identify and label their feelings. Parents should also make sure their kids know their feelings are genuine and real, rather than avoiding big emotions.

As kids get ready to go back to the classroom, the school boards says parents and children should think about school in a positive way.


The school board says it's important for parents and teachers to work together to help kids as they head back to school.

The WRDSB recommends parents connect with school staff to help children overcome their fears about the new school year.