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Back to School

After the long, laid-back days of summer, September and the back-to-school routine can be stressful. Here are some quick tips to help you and your family get off to a healthy start to the busy return to school season.

While most COVID-19 public health measures have been lifted, COVID-19 is still circulating in our community and remains a health risk. The following personal protective measures will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools:

The health unit works closely with school boards and schools in Simcoe Muskoka to promote a safe and healthy school environment and to protect the broader community.

For more information visit the health unit’s COVID-19 School webpage.


Avoid the morning rush by packing a well-balanced school lunch the night before and keeping it in the fridge overnight. Pack a variety of colourful vegetables and fruit. Limit foods and beverages with added sugar, and those high in sodium and saturated fat.

Walking and wheeling to school helps kids get active and feel refreshed and ready to learn.Studies show the benefits of physical activity are more than having a healthy heart and body. Physical activity also supports brain development, which can lead to improved learning and attention at school. Physical activity can also improve children and youth’s mental health – helping them to feel good about themselves and have more positive relationships with others. Now is the time to start planning your child’s active route to school this fall. Why not plan and practice the route together?

Find resources and activities at

There will be occasions throughout your child’s schooling when you will be asked about their immunization record or will be offered certain school immunizations. Keeping your child's immunization record up to date is an important part of your child's health as it provides protection against disease. There are several ways to report your child's immunization record to the health unit including a secure online form.

Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA)

In Ontario, under the ISPA, health units are required by the province to collect and maintain up-to-date immunization records for all students. Many students receive immunization from their health care provider, but this information is not automatically shared with the health unit. Please update your child’s immunization information online.

For the 2022-2023 school year, we encourage you to update your child’s immunization record and to catch up on any outstanding routine immunizations. Students with incomplete immunization records will receive notice from us advising them that their immunization record is not up to date.

Healthy teeth and eyes are an extremely important part of a child’s overall health. Listed below is information about local dental and vision services for children and youth.  

Dental services

Healthy Smiles Ontario is a free dental program for children and teens age 17 or younger who qualify. It is funded by the Province of Ontario. Children can get free preventive, basic and emergency dental care if eligible based on family income, need for service, and meeting financial criteria. Children whose parents are on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program are automatically covered for dental care under Healthy Smiles Ontario. For more information, visit the health unit’s website.

Vision screening

Children should have their first eye exam at six months of age, again at two to three years and every year after that. Eye exams are free with an OHIP card for children 19 years old and under. Parents/families can get their child’s eyes checked by visiting a local optometrist.

Conversations about vaping are very important to have with your child, and the earlier the better. Your child may be feeling pressure to try vaping. They see it at school and online through YouTubers and on TikTok. The candy and fruit flavours and high-tech designs make vaping even harder to resist.

Vaping is extremely addictive. Being addicted to nicotine makes kids feel moody and anxious and they are more likely to start smoking cigarettes and try other drugs.

Vaping has other health risks too. It causes lung damage and changes your child’s brain making it harder for them to learn and remember. It is not just harmless water vapour.

As parents/caregivers, you play an important role in encouraging a vape-free lifestyle for your child.

Make vaping a part of the conversation. Learn more at and check out our tips for talking to your child about vaping. They listen more than you may think they do.

Students, parents or families wishing to speak with a public health professional can call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or send an email to Health Connection using our online form.

Our telephone interpretation service is available in more than 200 languages to better serve our community. Individuals can request interpretation support to receive service in their preferred language

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If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

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