Back to School?

School years are formative years; they are milestones and act to benefit youth both academically and socially in their early development. For older students, like those in college, this could be a crucial time for enacting plans for a future career. Yet for those returning to school after years of absence, as someone in recovery, this not only stands to hinder their goal from achieving a degree but also their rehabilitation. While there are alternative ways to continue schooling, many fear having to physically attend campus or a classroom, while others question the quality of education online. However, education is a priority and there are options and ways to prepare amid this time to receive the best education possible.

Plan Ahead

The pandemic is ongoing, and while research continues to look for treatments, understand that a vaccine might be one or two years away. However, this does not mean that you need to wait for a solution before doing something. You can plan by continuing to educate yourself about the evolving situation and educate yourself on the best alternatives that help you continue to reach your goals. This could also help you and your loved ones anticipate and even begin to practice these measures at home.

Knowing and managing any or all health risks is essential when deciding if attending on-campus lectures or attending virtual courses is the better option. If you feel that you want to attend in-person, practice the necessary protocols: wear a mask, gloves, and use sanitizer and/or wash your hands frequently. These methods have proved effective in reducing risk of infection. You can take further measures by wearing protective eye wear, bringing alcohol wipes to clean tabletops, and remembering to take care of your immune system through diet, exercise, and sleep. Also, get familiar with the school’s deep clean process. You might call and ask what that protocol is: are they using a proper disinfectant, regulating classroom sizes, and providing safety protocol for all students? You or parents of loved ones may want to rehearse the safety measures at home to get used to these adjustments.

Create a Routine

If you decide or are only offered the option to attend school through virtual courses, then consider planning a routine–much like you would your work from home schedule. Allow ample time to manage your coursework, your meal times, exercise, and leisure time. A good schedule should be designed in a way that will enable you to move through your day without ever feeling overwhelmed. If you discover that a particular time makes it too hard to focus on your studies, adjust your schedule. Start practicing now to allow your body and mind to prepare for such a regimen before you begin classes.


Always keep the channel for dialogue and support open. If it is a loved one, let them know that you are facing this challenge with them and are willing to listen to any concerns they might have. Everybody has different reactions and stress that surround this issue. Acknowledge their feelings and be sure not to minimize them by simply saying, “You’ll be okay.” Continue to encourage the practice of safety first, and above all, let them know that they can come to you when they need someone to listen. Likewise, if you have a therapist or support group, stay in touch and keep expressing your fears and reservations. Talking through your concerns will help alleviate stress and reassure you that you are not alone.


Another difficult part of returning to school is the stark differences between different schools’ approaches and philosophies surrounding this pandemic. Some schools are offering online-only classes, others have implemented seemingly complicated and radical scheduling, while others are taking measures to make a full capacity return to classrooms. While a return at full capacity is the goal, and the number of COVID cases varies by community, the attempt to make a full return might be too ambitious at this time. However, these ever-changing protocols are the cause of a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. Perhaps the uncertainty is the most troubling and maybe why schools struggle to set in motion a schedule that anticipates COVID-19 being around without treatment for another year. However, become involved in your community to discuss concerns with school boards and faculty to open up dialogue to take such measures.

While cases vary among communities, the reality is that no school will be able to make a return to pre-pandemic conditions this year. If local government leaders cannot intervene and help schools make more deliberate decisions, it is up to you to ultimately decide what you think is best for you. You want to consider protecting yourself and others and not add to the increasing number of cases. This is a trying time. It certainly presents a challenge to overcome if going back to school has become a pillar in your recovery. Understand that the world shares this problem. Try to look outside the picture, post-pandemic, and realize that this will not go on forever and, by eliminating further growth of cases together, we can resolve the crisis sooner.

If you find it challenging to manage your recovery during these times, or if you find that your loved one is struggling, it might be time to consider help. True Recovery offers 24/7 care and will help those struggling with recovery find the care necessary to meet their needs. True Recovery will also help families struggling to find the best approach to educating and treating themselves during this trying time. To learn more, call us at (866) 399-6528.