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We have developed two parent booklets to help you get ready. Remember, always check with your school and school board for the latest changes

Booklet for Elementary Schools

Booklet for High Schools

COVID-19 Prevention

Four of the most important ways that we can all protect ourselves and each other involve regular hand washing, practicing repository etiquette, maintaining physical distance, and wearing a mask. To prepare your child or teen on these four “how-to’s” before they go back to school, follow these quick tips.

Share these posters with your child or teen on the proper way to wash our hands. 

For your Elementary School Child:

  • Talk about how handwashing helps us to stay healthy. Explain that “When we wash our hands, we get rid of germs that can make us sick. No one likes to be sick or get someone else sick, so we need to wash our hands to stop this from happening”. Learn more about germs and handwashing with this toolkit that you can do together using oil and seeds.
  • Explain when we should be washing our hands. Let your child know that we should wash our hands often, such as before we eat or touch our face, mouth or nose, and after we use the bathroom, play with our toys or on a playground, touch our face, mouth, or nose, andcough or sneeze into our hands. Discuss how there are surfaces that are often touched by a lot of people at school, such as light switches, desks, and doorknobs, and that we should wash our hands after we touch these things.
  • Children do best with watching and doing.Demonstrate with your child, using the hand washing poster or this video, how we should be washing our hands. When they are confident enough, ask them to teach you how to wash your hands.
  • Continue to model handwashing behaviour throughout the day.  Announce when you are going to wash your hands and why. For example “I'm about to eat my dinner, so I better go wash my hands first”.
  • Set routines. Even if they know how to wash their hands, it is important to create regular hand washing breaks and set a routine to get them in the habit of doing so at school.

For your Secondary School Teen:

  • Remind your teen of how we should properly wash our hands. Use the hand washing poster or this video  to go through each important step. Discuss how we can easily spread our germs at school, and that handwashing is the first line of defense against the spread of germs and viruses. 
  • Review with your teen when they should be washing their hands. For example, discuss how they should wash their hands before they eat, after using the bathroom, after touching any equipment, and after blowing their nose and sneezing. We should also wash our hands after we touch any “highly touched surfaces”, such as doorknobs, desks, or light switches. Make sure you discuss washing their hands before and after they touch their face, nose, or mouth.
  • Let them know that their school will promote hand washing practices. Discuss how there will be hand washing signs posted around the building, with extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations available. This will make them feel more confident that their school has all the practices in place to help everyone maintain proper hand hygiene.

Share this poster with your child or teen on the proper way to cough and sneeze.

For your Elementary School Child:

  • Talk about why we need to cover our mouth and nose when we cough or sneeze. Explain that “Germs make us sick. Germs can come from our mouth and nose when we cough and sneeze. Coughing and sneezing spreads the germs into the air and those around us. Covering our mouth and nose with our elbow or a tissue can stop our germs from spreading to others ”. Use this video in your explanation. Don’t forget to also discuss with your child that we need to keep our mask ON while we cough or sneeze to stop the spread of virus particles, if we are already wearing one.
  • Begin with modeling and direction. Whenever you cough or sneeze, make sure you model proper technique using your elbow or a tissue. If you see that they are about to cough or sneeze, gently direct their arms to their mouth/nose by saying “We cover our mouth and nose when we cough or sneeze with our elbow so that we don’t spread germs”.
  • Recognize when they do use their elbow or a tissue to cough or sneeze. Reward them by saying that you saw them cough into their arm and that they are doing a great job. When you see them forget to do so, acknowledge it. For example, you can say “Remember to use your sleeve next time”.

For your Secondary School Teen:

  • Ask your teen what they do when they cough or sneeze. Do they sneeze in their hands? Do they cough without covering their mouth and nose with their elbow or tissue? If so, use the poster to reinforce that we need to use our elbow or a tissue when we cough or sneeze or else we will spread our germs. Don’t forget to also explain to your teen that we need to keep our mask ON while we cough or sneeze to contain the spread of virus particles, if we are already wearing one.  
  • Read your School Board’s reopening plan. Explain to your child how schools will have posters that explain and remind students and staff how to cough and sneeze properly around the building. Let them know that there will be extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations installed, with extra receptacle bins and tissues available.  This can help to reduce any fears or concerns about maintaining proper respiratory etiquette while at school.

For your Elementary School Child:

  • Frame physical distancing as a mission that they need to accomplish. You can frame this by talking about germs that are invisible villains that we are trying to escape. For example, you can explain that “We are trying to stop the germs from spreading between each other at school, so if we don’t stand too close to other people, then the virus can’t jump”. For older kids, explain to them that we can still carry the virus without knowing we are sick and can spread it.
  • Make sure that your messaging is clear. For example, you can also add that not getting too close to others means that “We have to try to not touch or hug others too”.
  • Help them to see that not everything is different. Tell them that “We still eat together as a family, you still have to brush your teeth, you can continue to play your games, and that you are still able to go to school and see your friends”.
  • Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling. Let them know that you understand why they may feel this way and that you are there to help them understand each step of the way.

For your Secondary School Teen:

  • Make sure they know what physical distancing applies to, such as those outside of their household. This means that physical distancing will be applied throughout the entire school day, including while they ride the bus.
  • Validate their feelings and any cause of stress that comes with it. Physical distancing in the school environment can be a potential cause for feelings of isolation or loneliness that may impact the well-being of your teen. They may have concerns about returning to school and not being able to interact with their friends in different cohorts. Reinforce healthy coping mechanisms for fear and anxiety. Let them know that you understand why they may feel this way, but that this is just another simple way to keep everyone at school safe.

Share this poster with your child or teen on the ‘DOs and DONTs’ of wearing a mask.

For your Elementary School Child:

  • Explain why we wear masks in a positive way. Children like to know why they have to do something. For example “Masks stop the virus from jumping from person to person and getting us sick”, or, “Wearing a mask helps keep to keep you and your friends healthy and safe”. Watch this video together to learn more about how masks protect us.
  • Model mask wear. Try wearing a mask in front of your child. Look for their reactions. Do they look upset? Associate mask wearing with something fun. Wear a mask while you are playing a game. You can also model wearing a mask using their favourite stuffed animal or doll.
  • Slowly introduce the mask to your child and practice wearing it. Encourage them to touch the mask and to put their mask on at the same time as you. When they have it on, let them wear it for a few seconds, and slowly increase the time they wear their mask. When they’re ready, have them wear their mask when they’re doing something at home, like walking with you to get the mail, or helping to do the dishes.
  • Make mask-wearing fun and offer choices. Let your child pick which mask they want to wear. Offer them fun choices with their favourite characters or sport teams. Have them decorate their mask with stickers.

For your Secondary School Teen:

  • What does your teen already know or think about wearing masks? For example, ask them questions like “Have you and your friends been talking about wearing masks at school? What do you guys think?”, or “There’s a lot of videos about face masks out there. What do they say?”
  • If your teen feels frustrated with wearing a mask, validate their feelings. Let them know that you understand why they feel this way.
  • Remind them of the social responsibility of wearing a mask. When they feel that you understand their feelings, remind them that it is mandatory to wear a mask at school and when riding the bus to protect themselves and others.
  • Try to clarify any misconceptions that they may have, such as “I don't need to wear one if I am six feet apart”, or “It doesn't matter if it’s covering my nose, as long as it covers my mouth”. Refer to the poster for proper wear.

If your younger child or teen has sensory or developmental needs, consider these tips:

  • Use a soft fabric mask if your child is sensitive to touch.
  • Find a mask that ties around the head, or use a clip to tie the ear loops behind the head if they are uncomfortable with pressure on their ears.
  • Social stories or visual supports are a practical solution for those who have a learning disability. You can find examples in the “Video” section below.  

Helpful Resources

Whether you are doing in-person or online learning, we have helpful information for you:

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of technology and/or online mediums to bully someone else. It can take place through social network sites, websites, email, and text and instant messages, and is done to intimidate or harass another person. It can include:

  • Sending mean or threatening messages (texts, emails, chats, etc.)
  • Posting or sharing embarrassing or inappropriate photos of someone
  • Creating a site or group to make fun of others
  • Pretending to be someone else online

With the high rates of social media use, cyberbullying can be impossible to escape. Youth have access to social media sites 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – this means a victim can be bullied all day long. Nearly a quarter (24%) of students in grades 4 – 11 have said or done something mean to someone else online, but almost 40% of students reported that they have been a victim of cyberbullying. People who are cyberbullied can experience the same physical and mental effects as other forms of bullying, including:

  • Headaches, stomach aches, frequent colds / flu
  • Higher levels of stress or anxiety
  • Fear, social isolation, and low self-esteem
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating on school or other tasks
  • Withdrawing from activities, lower concern over how well they perform

Many people, especially youth, are unaware of how serious their online actions can be. Bullying in any form can be considered illegal depending on what is said or done. Threats or violence against another person can be categorized as assault or criminal harassment and legal action can be taken. 

COVID-19 and bullying among students

Students may be dealing with more stress, fear, and confusion due to COVID-19. They may be in a cohort away from their friends, or may feel isolated during on-line learning and due to social gathering restrictions. They may also be frustrated with the changes to their school year.  

Not understanding, or fearing COVID-19, can lead to negative behaviors like cyberbullying. Spreading rumors about, or threatening someone who is sick via social media has been reported among students as well as adults. Additionally, warning or threatening people to not disclose their contacts to public health staff is another form of online bullying during COVID-19. 

These actions can hinder the work everyone is doing to help stop the spread of the virus, as well as further isolate someone who may be sick.

What you can do

Talking to children about COVID-19 in a non-stigmatizing way can help them understand the virus. It is important to provide children with fact-based information about COVID-19 that is appropriate for their age, so they can better understand the disease and address their fears. Some topics include:

  • COVID-19 is a virus that anyone can catch, even if they follow proper hygiene protocols
  • Respecting an ill person’s privacy and not trying to find out who is sick in their school
  • We wear masks, wash our hands often to help keep us healthy
  • Not everyone can wear a mask, and that’s ok
  • Bullying in-person and online are equally wrong and hurtful
  • Remind children to be kind to others, both in-person and online
  • Encourage children to stay in touch with their friends online, especially if they’re not able to see them in person

Also, be aware of what your children are doing online. Know which social media platforms they are on, and who they are interacting with. Make (and follow) family rules around screen devices which includes being kind to others. Let your children know that if they witness bullying in any form, they should let you or another adult know about it. Become familiar with the laws around cyberbullying

Do not forget to check in with your child to see how they’re feeling. Ask directly about any bullying they might have seen, or if they’ve ever felt bullied by someone. Let them know that you are always around to talk.

For more information or support

For more information on bullying, visit

If your child has experienced bullying, or is having other mental health issues, they can talk to a trained professional for free through  Kids Help Phone offers free text, chat, or call support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As students go back to school, they may notice that some things look a little different, especially in high schools. In high schools, for example, students will be doing some online/remote learning. Online learning can help schools reduce the number of students that are in school during the day, and help everyone keep a safe distance from each other. 

Review this information to get you and your child ready for online learning:  

Set up a proper workstation

Did you know that sitting for long periods could cause strain on your body? Using a desk that is not set up properly can lead to computer-related injuries (e.g., neck and back pain, eyestrain, etc.).

Here are some tips to help your child set up their online learning workstation:

  • Find a nice and comfortable area in your house with free table-space. Children should avoid using the laptop on their lap, on the couch, or on the bed.
  • If you can, they should use a separate mouse and keyboard. Set up the keyboard and mouse in such a way that they are directly under their fingers when they bend their elbows to about 90 degrees. Make sure their wrists stay straight when typing or using the keyboard (i.e., they don’t have to bend up or down their wrists to do these tasks).
  • If using a monitor, place it so that the top of the screen is aligned with their forehead. If not, raise the laptop’s screen so that they do not have to bend or rotate their neck to look at the screen.
  • To minimize eyestrain, make sure they sit at about an arm’s length away from the screen.
  • Don’t forget to take breaks to increase circulation and let their eyes relax

Learn more here.

Schedule breaks away from the screen

Encourage your child to take breaks away from screens to help prevent eyestrain, increase motivation, and prevent them from losing interest in the work they are doing.

Sitting and staring at a computer for many hours each day can be exhausting, both mentally and physically.

That is why it is important that they schedule screen-free breaks and activities throughout their online learning day:

  • For every 20 minutes of work, look away from the screen for 20 seconds
  • Get up and move! For every 60 minutes of work, get up and move for 5 minutes.
  • Have lunch and snacks away from screens, and if possible, enjoy a meal with others in the household.

TIP: Keep a snack-free workstation, just bring a glass of water. If hunger hits, encourage children to step away from the screen, to enjoy a meal or snack. Children should take their time to eat, no need to rush through meals!  

Limit screen time outside of online learning

When not doing online learning, children should try to do activities that do not involve screens and that keep them active. This will keep their body (and mind) healthy and ready to learn. In other words, they should try not to spend the entire day in front of a screen! Tip: Challenge your family to a screen-free night. You can get together and play board games, cards, or read quietly.

Learn more at Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines.

Review online safety tips

With the online learning requirements, children are about to spend more time using the internet. The internet can be a useful tool for learning, for keeping in touch with teachers and peers, and for entertainment. However, the internet and the digital world can cause stress, affect their sleep, and be unsafe if they are not careful.

Review these tips to help keep your child and others safe:  

Respect people’s privacy & feelings – before sharing anything online, whether it is a message, a picture, a video, or a voice note, always think before doing it. Ask yourself what would happen if what you shared is sent to people who weren’t supposed to see it? How would the people involved feel if it was sent to others? Would it affect people’s feelings (e.g., is the messages hurtful to some people)?

Do not share personal information – Do not give your information such as your address, cellphone number, your parent’s names, etc. without your parent’s permission

Do not agree to get together with people you have “met” online – Anyone can lie about their identity online. Always check with your parents before agreeing to meet with someone.

Helpful resources:

For Parents:

How much physical activity does my child need? 

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (CPAG) were developed to provide recommendations on how much activity is required for different age groups. Children 3 to 4 years of age need 180 minutes of physical activity throughout the day with at least 60 minutes being energetic play. Those aged 5-17 years old require 60 minutes a day in moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity and 3 days a week on muscle and bone strengthening activities.

*Moderate physical activity makes you sweat a little and breathe harder.
*Vigorous physical activity makes you sweat more and be out of breath. 

How can physical activity benefit my children?  

In addition to promoting growth and development, regular physical activity can:  Promote bone health

  • Promote cardiovascular health
  • Help to maintain a healthy body weight
  • Increase self-esteem and mood 

Sedentary levels may be high in school-aged children and youth since a majority of the school day can be spent sitting. Sitting down for homework and transport time to and from school can also add to the amount of time being physically inactive. 

What can I do to keep my children active at home? 

Physical activity can look different for every child. Remember to: 

  1. Choose the right activity for your child.  Ask them what they would like to do, or what they are most interested in. Download this Play Package for activity ideas using little to no equipment at home.
  2. Keep it fun. Mix things up throughout the week so that you are not repeating the same activities.  
  3. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities to be active. Being physically active doesn’t mean that equipment is needed. Encourage active travel to school, time spent playing outdoors after school, or indoor activities when the weather calls for it. Encourage active breaks during the day when they are learning from home.   

For more information on keeping your child active, visit the following sites:
WECHU-Healthy at Home Physical Activity
Unlock Food 

Download Factsheet

What is active transportation? 

Active transportation means that children and youth are using an active mode of transportation to get to or from school. This means that they are not being dropped off or picked up by a car or school bus.  

Children and youth who actively travel to school may walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, or wheelchair their way to class.  

How does it benefit children and youth?  

Being active on the way to or from school has many benefits for students, such as: 

  • Performing better in school. This includes reduced stress levels and increased alertness and attention during the school day.  
  • Helps to meet the recommended amount of physical activity. Children and youth, aged 5-17 years of age, need a minimum of 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Only 2 out of 5 children meet this minimum requirement in Canada.  
  • Improves their health. This includes both physical and mental health. 

It also helps to create safer school zones by reducing traffic congestion at the drop-off and pick-up zones at schools. 

What can I do to get started for the school year?

  • Talk to school administration to discuss safe school routes and determine if they have a school travel plan in place.
  • Parents/caregivers and students should practice the route to school so that they are confident in the safest route to get there.  
  • Teach students about active travel safety, such as how to cross safely at pedestrian crossovers and at traffic lights.  

An alternative to buses and public transportation 

With students returning to school during COVID-19, safe school operations complement the safe operation of school buses to minimize contact before getting on the bus, while riding the bus, and when getting off the bus. 

Download Factsheet

We know that this school year looks a little bit different, but packing a healthy lunch is still important to help students be ready to learn!

What to pack Pack

lunches and snacks that includes different types of food including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and some foods that have protein.

Good options for lunches & snacks include:

  • Leftovers! Dinner or lunch leftovers make for a great school lunch.
  • Hot cereal (e.g., oatmeal) topped with fruits like berries and sliced apples
  • Cold pasta salad with vegetables and chicken
  • Cut up fruits or vegetables with side dips
  • Whole grain/wheat crackers with cheese
  • Whole grain muffins like banana, apple, or carrot
  • Pita chicken or beef sandwiches, with vegetables and hummus as dressing
  • For more ideas, visit Canada’s Food Guide.

Things to consider with COVID-19 restrictions:

  • Do not pack items that your child will need help with. For example, do not send a container that your child can’t open on their own.
  • If possible, consider adding more vegetables to the lunch. Snack programs in schools may not be able to serve the usual options this school year

How to help your child get ready

  1.  Remind your child about safety tips to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during mealtimes:
    • Wash your hands before and after eating
    • Do not share food, drinks, or utensils with others
    • Try to keep your distance from others
  2.  Set mealtime routines again. School closures may have changes your child’s eating routines. Try to get them used to either a balanced or a traditional day eating schedule.
  3.  Get your child involved in deciding what goes in their lunches. Give them a list of options and let them choose
  4.  Find recipe ideas for tasty school lunches here:

Download Factsheet

We know that this school year looks a little bit different, but packing a healthy lunch is still important to help keep you energized to learn!

What to pack

Pack lunches and snacks that includes different types of food including vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and some foods that have protein.

Good options for lunches & snacks include:

  • Hot cereal (e.g., oatmeal) topped with fruits like mixed berries and sliced apples
  • Cold pasta salad with vegetables. Top it with chicken or tofu.
  • Sliced or whole fruits and sliced vegetables with side dips (try hummus or a light ranch dip).
  • Whole grain/wheat crackers with cheese or canned tuna
  • Yogurt with whole grain muffins like banana, apple, or carrot
  • Chicken pita or beef sandwiches filled with vegetables. Use hummus as a dressing.
  • For more ideas, visit Packing Healthy School Lunches and Snacks FAQ and Canada’s Food Guide.

Things to consider with COVID-19 restrictions:

  • Your schools’ cafeteria food services may be closed. You also may be encouraged to refrain from leaving the school building to go out to eat. Make sure you pack enough snacks and a balanced lunch to ensure you have enough to eat during the day.
  • If possible, try to add more vegetables for lunch. Snack programs in schools may not be able to serve the usual options this school year.
  • Make sure you bring a reusable water bottle. Drinking directly from the water fountain is not recommended.

Set yourself up for success

  1. Remember these safety tips to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during mealtimes:
    a. Wash your hands before and after eating
    b. Do not share food, drinks, or utensils with others
    c. Try to keep your distance from others
  2. Get creative and find recipe ideas for tasty school lunches here:
  3. Use leftovers from dinner the night before for a quick and easy lunch to pack. 4. Use an insulated lunch bag with a freezer pack or chilled thermos to keep food cool.

Download Factsheet

Download this factsheet to learn more about the infection prevention and control measures that can be used to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in schools.

Still have questions? Email us at

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Last modified: 
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - 12:29pm