Back to School during COVID-19 Resources

Parents of students with diverse needs, including autism, have been very concerned at the start of the new school year in British Columbia. The lack of concrete information from the Ministry of Education has contributed to the uncertainty. The pandemic has left many families confused as to how to best support their child’s learning needs while keeping them and their families healthy. ACT has gathered resources below which we hope will be of assistance to families, and the professionals who support them. You can also keep up to date with the latest news reports by following ACT’s Facebook page.

BC’s Ministry of Education’s Back to School Plan

Unfortunately, each school district is handling its response differently because BC’s Ministry of Education has set few standards. One important provision from MOE’s website is the statement that:

“School districts will contact all families in their school community to share their safety plan and confirm if they plan to have their child attend classes in September or require an other option. The Ministry has also given school districts the flexibility to find options that work for families. This includes remote options for students within their districts, as well as the tools school districts need to increase their existing programs to meet demand.”

If your child’s school is not communicating in a meaning way with you, you may advocate directly with the school district, whether their needs are best served by in-class or online instruction.

B.C.’s Back to School Plan includes information parents needs to know, such as: new health and safety requirements, supports for students with disabilities, diverse abilities, and additional needs and the “Back to School Plans” for all BC School Districts.

Note: If your child attends an Independent School, their Restart Plan is to be posted on the school website.

Knowing Your Rights and Advocacy Tips

ACT has been receiving calls from parents who have children with autism and other diverse needs and are confused about the BC Restart plan, the impact on their child’s educational rights, and how to advocate for their children when their rights are infringed.

For detailed information on BC’s Education System and how to advocate within it, see:

BCEdAccess Exclusion Tracker Survey 2020-2021

Since 2018, BCEDAccess has been collecting data on the exclusion of students with disabilities from schools in BC. The Exclusion Tracker is an annual survey for parents and guardians intended to document exclusions of students and can be filled out as frequently as neccesary.

For a direct link to this year’s survey, click Exclusion Tracker 2020.

Need Support?

If you need support advocating for your child’s education, contact:

Share your advocacy efforts with ACT

If you are a parent or guardian of a child with diverse needs returning to school, we invite you to share your experience by emailing [email protected]. With your permission we will post your comments, while protecting your privacy.

Great Back to School Resources

Search ACT’s Autism Information Database (AID)

ACT’s Autism Information Database (AID) contains over 1,400 curated resources from around the world on topics related to autism and other neurological conditions, including education and advocacy. We encourage caregivers seeking resources to visit the AID, but here are a few sample resources that may be helpful this school year:

  • Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines (Resource #463): This online manual of policies, procedures and guidelines for special education services from BC’s Ministry of Education outlines roles and responsibilities of school personnel, parents and students, the process of developing an individual education plan (IEP) and more.
  • Everyone Belongs in our Schools: A Parent’s Handbook on Inclusive Education (Resource# 1903): This handbook from InclusionBC presents information to help parents understand how the school system works, and their roles, rights, and responsibilities within it. It also includes information on planning for your child’s needs and tips for the IEP process.
  • Helping Students with Autism Make the Back-to-School Transition (Resource #2591): This online article from Autism Speaks outlines strategies for a smooth back-to-school transition, including bedtime and wake-up routines and adjustment to school demands.
  • Open School B.C Educational Resources and Services (Resource #1917): This website offers a variety of free, online grades K-12 resources for public use. Many of the resources address the B.C Ministry of Education curriculum guidelines
  • Autism Distance Education Parent Training (ADEPT) (Resource #3288): ADEPT is an online learning module providing parents with tools and training to more effectively teach their child with autism and other related neurodevelopmental disorders functional skills using applied behavior analysis (ABA) techniques. This course may assist parents who are online or home schooling.

Share your resources

Have you found or developed great resources? Share this with ACT at [email protected]