Adjusting to the new norm: Next two months will be "transitional" for students, says child psychologist

This school year will be the third impacted by the pandemic, and Maritime provinces are working to balance safety and a sense of routine as students return to class.

Masks are still a must at certain times in all schools, and in New Brunswick, high school students return full-time, instead of the day on, day off approach used last year.

It's nearly normal, but will still be an adjustment for some, says child psychologist and University of Toronto professor, Todd Cunningham.

"We know that for some students who had to do online schooling, they didn't have the devices or the internet to always be able to do it," he said.

"We know that some students weren't always able to go to school on a regular basis due to family members who had COVID, or due to transportation issues, or other stressors happening within their families."

Cunningham says teachers will likely have to field questions about vaccines and school safety.

But he warns that not all students have been impacted by the pandemic equally, both mentally or academically.

"Not all students need the same amount of intensity or supports," he said.

"But what we do need to do is give those who are behind that intensity and supports so we can get them caught up. So that they're not going to have a cumulative learning loss over the course of the next couple years."

He calls the next two months a transitional period, where teachers and parents will need to communicate about how a child is doing.

New Brunswick's Education Minister Dominic Cardy says he will be listening to teachers to see what the first couple of months are like and how students are doing.

His department is also placing safeguards in early childhood education centres.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, staff and children ages two and older at childcare facilities will be required to wear masks in common indoor areas.

The province is also "strongly urging" the vaccination of all staff in those facilities, and asking that they keep a visitor log in the case of an outbreak.