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Supporting your child’s mental health as they go back to school

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/Aug. 26, 2020 – This September, local children, teachers, and parents and guardians will begin a school year that is very different.  Some students may be excited, but others may feel stressed or anxious. If you have students in your life, there are steps you can take to support their mental health during this transition back to school.    

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and local school boards have spent the summer planning for the safe reopening of schools and establishing appropriate processes to keep students safe and healthy both physically and emotionally. While measures have been put in place at schools to support students, parents and guardians remain the biggest and most important support for children and youth. 

“Parents can help their children adjust to the return to school by taking steps to boost their family’s resilience” says Dr. Alexa Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “We are encouraging all caregivers to take steps to be well, stay positive, and keep connected. Families can feel reassured that processes have been put in place to protect the health and well being of children as they return to school.”

There is strong evidence that children and youth may be less susceptible to COVID-19 infection and less likely to transmit the virus to others [1].  Parents can let children know that new practises will be in place at school that can keep them safe. These practises will include hand washing routines, wearing masks, and physical distancing.  Remind them to wash their hands often, cough or sneeze into their elbow and to tell an adult if they start to feel unwell.

This year, HPEPH’s message to parents and caregivers is: Be well, stay positive, and keep connected. 

Be well.  As a parent or caregiver, it is important to take care of your own health. Taking care of your health will give you the energy to help you and your kids with the return to school. Try to make time for yourself, get enough sleep, eat properly, and be active. Predictable routines can help both adults and children feel secure and deal with stressful events. 

Stay positive. As kids return to school, try to stay positive. Students may have mixed emotions about going back to school. Let them know that it’s okay to experience these feelings, and that their emotions may change as the school year begins. Help your child or teen find strategies to cope with stress in positive ways such as taking deep breaths, talking with friends, or being active. Take time every day to work on building a strong and loving relationship. No matter their age, show them that you care and that they matter to you. Spend time together, encourage them to ask for help, and help them problem-solve as they encounter new challenges this year. 

Keep connected. You are not alone during this challenging time. This school year, be sure to stay connected to your supports. These can be social supports such as friends or family, school supports like principals or teachers, or community supports like Children’s Mental Health or Kids Help Phone.

This is a new and challenging time for everyone.  To support your own health and your child’s mental health as they return to school, be well, stay positive, and keep connected. 

Additional information and frequently asked questions about returning to school during the pandemic are available at or call 613-966-5500, ext. 223..


Media Contact:

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist  

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

[1] SickKids, COVID-19: Recommendations for School Reopening, June 17, 2020

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Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.


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The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.