Welcome to the New School Year

For many students (and even parents and teachers!) the beginning of a new school year can be a time that is both exciting and daunting. Some students are raring to go and keen to get back into it, while others might just wish their holidays lasted forever. A combination of both is natural!

For students with complex health conditions who are absent from school, the challenges of starting a new school year can be amplified. It’s important that the transition takes into consideration they various locations they’re in, and how they can stay connected to their classrooms.


“A new school year means new beginnings, new adventures, new friendships, and new challenges. The slate is clean and anything can happen.” ~Denise Witmer



With that in mind, here are five tips for supporting students with complex health conditions as they make the transition into the new school year!

1. Make A Plan For Family-School Communication

The beginning of a new school year is an important time for parents and teachers to get to know one another and discuss how you’ll communicate about the student’s needs throughout the year. For students with complex health conditions that prevent them from attending school in person, regular check-ins and updates between family and school help ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding learning goals, accommodations, and any adjustments that may be necessary. This is especially important if the student is starting at a new school, or beginning high school.

2. Revisit Individualised Learning Plans (ILPs)

At the beginning of the school year, it’s timely to revisit, or develop, an Individualised Learning Plan (ILPs) that outlines specific accommodations, modifications, and support services tailored to the needs of the student with a health condition. ILPs address academic, social, and emotional aspects of learning and draw on the expertise of education and health professionals and families. They are useful for unlocking funding so schools have the resources they need to support the student.

3. Explore Opportunities To Connect To School Through Technology

Telepresence technology opens up the possibility for students to learn from anywhere. If a student is experiencing chronic absence due to either complex health condition, explore virtual learning platforms, video conferencing tools, and educational apps that enable the student to participate in classroom activities, interact with peers, and access instructional materials from home. 2023 was a record breaking year for MissingSchool, with more interactions on our helpline than ever before – more and more families and schools are looking for ways to keep students with health conditions connected so do reach out if you know a student in need.

4. Encourage Open Discussion with the Student

As with any transition, some anxiety and concern around the beginning of a new school year is perfectly normal! It’s important that avenues are provided for the student to voice their concerns in healthy ways with people they trust, whether that’s a video call with a favourite teacher, dialling in to connect with friends at school in a recess or lunch time, through in-person visits, or a cup of tea at the kitchen table.

5. Maintain A Routine

In the classroom, routine helps students to focus and stay on track. For students who are absent, mirroring the class routine at home can help them feel like they’re part of the class and build a productive school mindset. Where possible, consider setting consistent times of the day for the student to dial into class, focus on particular subjects, take breaks or do homework.

At MissingSchool, we believe in the power of community. Together, we can create environments where every child feels like they belong.

There are many ways to help:

Every action moves us closer to the finish line: a world where every sick child is seen and heard at school. Where ‘learn from anywhere’ is universal.

Let’s keep connecting.

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