Board logo

Supporting Special Education and Wellness

Supporting Students in Special Education - Identification and Mitigation of Potential Gaps in Learning 

  • The Board has secured the ability for our staff to perform educational assessments in August to plan forward for students with special education needs.
  • Education Professionals will be conducting summer psychoeducational assessments and have their own protocol for safe assessments in place that aligns with this document.
  • Focus for educators to begin the school year will be about relationship building, social interaction and diagnostics. Diagnostics will be completed in a timely fashion to determine gaps and to be able to provide remediation.

Personal Equipment, Devices and Learning Materials

Some students require assistive devices and other equipment to go back and forth from school each day. Educational Assistants will assist students in cleaning/disinfecting wheelchairs, trays, communication devices, medical equipment etc. before entering the classroom each day.

New Routines

  • Some students will need extra support in understanding and remembering new routines and processes. Special Education staff will use visual signage, story boards, modelling videos, etc. to communicate these new safety guidelines and procedures.
  • Schools will need to ensure signage is accessible.
  • Students will understand what safe travel means, will learn the appropriate routes (E.g. entry/exit of the gym) throughout the school, handwashing and hygiene guidelines and modifications to the physical setting.
  • Special Education teams will plan for learning regarding appropriate social interactions.

Personal Care 

  • Staff may choose to wear PPE when working directly with students with significant special needs. This may include (in addition to the required PPE for all staff) goggles, shield, gloves and/or gowns.
  • Washrooms, change stations, toileting, lifts, will be sanitized by custodial staff regularly according to guidelines in the health and safety section.
  • Custodial staff will need to respond exigently to personal accidents.

Sanitization of Learning Resources and Other Classroom Items

  • Schools will eliminate/reduce items coming into the classroom and communicate this to families.
  • Schools will continue to provide individual bins of multiples of touchable items for each student in a self-contained special education class.
  • Sanitizer and wipes will be available for students to clean their items.
  • Staff will need to be vigilant in monitoring students on the move and possibly touching things in the class.
  • No shared items in the class.

Medically Fragile Students

  • Schools will communicate with parents of medically fragile students in August. They will encourage parents to seek advisement from local public health authorities and/or their own health care provider on attendance at school in September and any accommodations needed. 

Nutrition Programs

  • Staff will follow revised sanitation and access protocols in partnership with community agencies.

IPRCs, IEPs, Accommodations and Special Education Support

  • School teams will need to schedule the use of rooms with these safety guidelines in mind.
  • Meeting for IPRCs, IEP consults, parent meetings and consultations with itinerant staff may continue to occur virtually in place of face-to-face meetings at school where appropriate.
  • Gifted modules at St. Mary CLC will resume.
  • Special education staff will continue with virtual supports for those students who are opting for remote learning.

Supporting the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Students

Wellness in the Classroom

  • Support staff may choose to where PPE when supporting students.
  • As noted above, focus of educators for first number of days will be relationship building, social interaction, and diagnostics; using a Good for All approach (Tier 1).
  • To promote a sense of wellness and belonging in the classroom, educators will be encouraged to utilize to utilize the Mentally Healthy back-to-school support package and Student Mental Health Action Kit available through School mental Health Ontario, including the Faith and Wellness Resource created in partnership with School Mental Health Ontario and OECTA.

Having a Private and Secure Meeting Space

  • Schools will identify a meeting space (meeting professional college and school board health and safety requirements) for assessments, therapy, interviews, crisis, and rehabilitation services.  This space may be utilized by board or community MH professionals; and where possible, may require more than one space per school.
  • Support staff will continue with virtual support for those students opting for remote learning.


  • Attendance protocols remain the same recognizing the flexibility needed regarding implications of the current context and keeping students and staff healthy.
  • Attendance monitoring, protocols and referrals will follow the normal Board processes. Schools will follow COVID-19-related absence, reporting protocols where a student has been directed to stay at home through the Ontario Online Self-Screening Tool.
  • For students who are engaged only in remote learning, attendance should be taken according to the school’s daily protocol. Students in remote learning should be provided with a daily schedule of subjects/courses according to a 5-hour instructional day with opportunities for frequent, live contact with a teacher and expectations for synchronous learning.
  • School will communicate to staff and families, the application of new attendance protocols.
  • Further guidance from the Provincial Attendance Counsellor will be shared with school administrators and Attendance Counsellors.

Student Wellness Following a Traumatic Event

  • Trauma due to the loss of family members, isolation, suicidal ideations, food insecurity, loss of income, loss of housing, etc. may be experienced by some of our students.
  • BHNCDSB has increased support staff FTE to assist in providing care for all students.
  • Virtual family and student support meetings may continue via Teams and Ontario Telemedicine Network.
  • System staff will continue to work with community agencies to provide clear understanding of shared Circle of Support/Pathways to Care.
  • Staff will continue professional learning with a focus on building students’ social-emotional learning skills so that they can build resilience, manage their stress and build positive relationships in this environment.
  • The Board will make use of the School Mental Health Ontario “toolkit” to support the mental health of all students and educators to support students.
  • BHNCDSB will continue with a tiered approach for mental health supports; ensuring the promotion of mental health and well-being for all, targeted intervention for those in risk and support for those requiring more intensive, clinical interventions particularly to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Social Workers and Child and Youth Workers will continue with training in self-regulation, trauma informed schools, and restorative practices.
  • Support staff will collaborate with child and youth mental health agencies to support strong connections and make the best use of mental health resources and supports across the integrated system of care.

Supporting Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • Staff may have also experienced trauma due to loss during the pandemic. Some staff may also need additional support for the return to school.
  • Communication of Employee and Family Assistance Program.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources

Kids Help Phone

Canada's free, national, bilingual, confidential, and anonymous 24-hour telephone and online counselling service for children 20 and under. For more information, visit the Kids Help Phone website.

Mindyourmind and Mindcheck

Interactive websites for teens and emerging adults to access information, resources, and tools during tough times. For more information, visit the Mindyourmind and Mindcheck websites.

Playing with Anxiety: Casey's Guide for Teens and Kids

An e-book for students dealing with anxiety. For more information, visit the Playing with Anxiety: Casey's Guide for Teens and Kids website.

Self-Injury Outreach & Support (SIOS)

A collaboration between the University of Guelph and McGill University, SIOS is a non-profit outreach initiative providing information and resources about self-injury to those who self-injure, those who have recovered, and those who want to help. For more information, visit the SIOS website.

Mental Health Resources for Parents and Caregivers

The ABCs of Mental Health

Provides information related to different mental health concerns according to developmental ages. Also provides information to help determine the level of concern (green-yellow-red). For more information, visit the ABCs of Mental Health website.

Children's Mental Health Ontario

For parents and families wanting to learn more about mental health and well-being, signs and symptoms, when to get help, and specific mental illnesses. It also lists books to share with children. For more information, visit the Children's Mental Health Ontario website.

BHNCDSB Information Database for Mental Health and Wellness

A comprehensive, up-to-date database utilized in searching for community and social services for children, youth, and adults in the areas of Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk.

Contact REACH

A single-entry access point of referral for child and youth mental health issues and developmental services in Haldimand and Norfolk. For more information, visit the Contact REACH website.

Haldimand-Norfolk REACH

A large, multi-service agency offering a wide range of coordinated services and supports to children, youth, individuals, and families. Referrals go through Contact REACH. For more information, visit the Haldimand-Norfolk REACH website.

Haldimand-Norfolk REACH Brochures: Family Services Single Therapy Sessions, Temper Taming Group Sessions, Family Services Counselling Programs, Walk-In Counselling Clinic

Contact Brant

A single-entry access point of referral for child and youth mental health issues and developmental services in Brant. For more information, visit the Contact Brant website.


A single-entry access point of referral for child and youth mental health issues and developmental services in Brant. For more information, visit the Woodview website.

Woodview Brantford Programs

For more information about Woodview programs in Brantford, please visit