Parents, teachers and students across the province have a lot of questions and mixed emotions heading into the upcoming school year.

Most are wondering how different the coming year will look for K-12 schools, and are trying to navigate unfamiliar waters.

For some families, back-to-school will mean a full return to in-person classes. Many others will opt to learn remotely; whether that be a teacher-supported online option or registered homeschooling.

The Cochrane Social Recovery Task Force recognizes that parents, teachers and students are feeling uneasy during this unprecedented time, and they are hosting a panel discussion on Tuesday, August 25 to help ease back to school anxiety.

The objective of the event is to engage in conversations about how Cochrane schools and service providers are adapting to accommodate reentry.

Task Force member and Town Councillor Susan Flowers says that the panel will address feelings of fear, stress and anxiety related to the return to classes.  

She says "The task force wants to help people share information and just deal with the fear because everybody has some and the unknown is difficult to deal with. We know that by hearing from some of our local experts and people who are dealing with COVID fallout day to day, they can relay some tips and help people feel less anxious and have better coping skills."

Flowers says that The Social Recovery Task Force received a great deal of feedback from a survey conducted in June and a major concern that was reiterated was students returning to the classroom.

She says "We were pleased to see that over 500 people responded to the survey and really were anxious to talk about what was going on for them. We know The Task Force heard that many residents are anxious about kids returning to school. We are hosting this open conversation with local experts to provide parents with practical information and resources."

Included on the panel is school board representatives and health experts including Fiona Gilbert, Chair, Board of Trustees, Rocky View Schools; Mary Martin, Calgary Catholic School Board Chair; Eric Howey, Mental Health Clinician at Cochrane Addiction and Mental Health Services; and Amy Cousins, Assistant Director, Cochrane Home Schooling.  

Panellists will answer questions about how the school boards are dealing with back to school. They will also adress how to regulate personal anxiety as well as help our kids navigate their stress and they'll discuss how homeschooling is impacted by the pandemic.

Flowers says that while there are still a lot of question marks across the board, the event will be an opportunity for the community to come together and support one another.

She says "The social recovery task force realizes that no one has all the answers but this is a time for community to come together and support one another. We hope this event can help parents feel confident in their back to schools plans and model a positive outlook for their children."

The event will be held on Tuesday, August 25 from 7-8:30 pm. There is no charge to attend, however space is limited to 50 people and registeration is required to attend in person.

Participants can click here to register.