BARRIE, ONT. -- The start of the school year is right around the corner, and anxiety levels are high among some parents and students.

CTV’s Madison Erhardt spoke with Dr. Patrick Carney, the Senior psychologist and mental health head with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board, about how to make the return to school less stressful.

Madison: For families sending their kids back to school, what are some ways to help the adjustment be as smooth as possible?

Dr. Carney: Well, certainly for families to be talking to their children about the return and what to anticipate.

By now, they are used to changes in schedules and habits and routines, and there will be more of that at school. Reassuring them that there will be a set up at the school, I would say is really important for children to practice. It’s not a good idea for children to arrive at school and not have worn a mask before.

Schedule changes are also something to get used to, so setting the alarm this week and getting up when you normally would for school will help too, so it’s not as much as an adjustment.

Madison: Some parents have chosen to keep their kids home, and will be continuing to balance a lot. As a family, how do they continue to keep their kids motivated and social while also balancing their responsibilities?

Dr. Carney: The internet does provide an opportunity to be social; that is a connection right there. I would advise parents to think about the importance of social connection for support and connect with a cousin, a grandparent or whatever to make sure that’s a routine. Find out what people are doing and what their interests are and how they are spending their time.

Madison: The fall brings a lot of unknowns, what is your message to families as they continue to navigate this pandemic?

Dr. Carney: The goal here is to flourish despite the pandemic and so there is so much opportunity.

It starts with understanding the risks and then understanding your resources. Chris Hadfield says it so nicely. We have the internet; we have all the knowledge in the world at our fingertips. You could learn to play guitar or learn a new language.

There is an opportunity to flourish with a whole new way of looking at our opportunities and our circumstances, but you have to respect this pandemic and respect this virus and then figure out a way of thriving in that space.