The Mix’s back-to-school guide

Illustration shows young people in a classroom with a teacher. The board reads: "back to school"

What will school be like now? 

Many of you are heading back to school this week and let’s face it, things are a bit weird.  

As well as wrapping your head around the new timetable and your first pieces of homework, you’ll be in a socially-distanced classroom, with queues to get in, tape markers on the floor and a new set of rules to learn.

  • Every school will have slightly different structure, but the focus will be on making the environment as clean and safe as possible.  
  • Schools will ask students to wear masks in communal areas and in classrooms (unless you are exempt)
  • Schools will be going back to the bubble system, separating students and staff into bubble groups, to avoid the spreading of germs.  
  • Teachers and staff will also be wearing masks.
  • There will be regular testing two or three times a week to make sure you don’t have coronavirus.
  • Find out more about how testing will work by reading this BBC article. 

How are you feeling about going back? 

Many of you will be excited to see your mates and have lessons in person again, but you might also feel a bit anxious and uncertain. It’s not easy and there are lots of things to adjust to, but remember you’re not alone in dealing with all this change.  

How to cope with the return to school  

You can reach out to our team any time for support and advice, and here’s a handy guide, with tips from our counselling team to get you through the tricky bits. 

If you’re a college or university student, read our article on what student life will be like.

I’m anxious and scared about all the change 

Being freaked out by change is totally normal and it happens to everyone at some point, so there’s nothing wrong with youThere are lots of things you can do to feel prepared and help you cope with it. 

  • Ask any questions you may have – no one will mind explaining things to you. 
  • Be patient with yourself – you’re not expected to pick up the new rules straight away. 
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for a study break and take some time to calm down. 
  • Read our article on coping with uncertainty about school and exams. 
  • Things might feel different but not everything has changed! Your teachers and your friends will still be there for you.

If your anxiety feels a bit out of control, read our guide to dealing coping with panic attacks. 

Our counselling team says: 

Focus on what feels positive about returning to your school or place of learning. 

“Try this technique if you’re feeling anxious: 

  1. Close your eyes and remember a really good day at school.  
  2. While your eyes are closed, take your time to allow yourself to experience that day again.  
  3. See what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt back then AS IF IT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.  
  4. You can keep your eyes closed as long as you feel you want to stay in that wonderful space. 
  5. Trying this a few times a day will help you get better at bringing the good memories to life.

I’m worried I might get ill 

You might also feel worried about getting ill and that’s completely understandable. Your school will be doing everything within its power to keep you safe and there are also things you can do that will make you feel more in control 

  • Talk to someone – many of your friends will feel the same as you 
  • Let your friends know what makes you feel comfortable. 
  • Ask your parents or a teacher to help you come up with a plan to help you feel safe. 

Our counselling team says: 

“Find out about the measures in place to keep everyone safe and well and understand what you can do to be part of that.” 

I’m feeling stressed about exams and doing well 

The most important thing to remember is that your value is not based on how you perform at school or in your exams. You are so much more than a grade. 

Try making a list of all the things you like about yourself and read it back whenever you feel worried about your academic performance. Exams aren’t everything.  

Try not to compare yourself to others; you are your own person and can work at your own pace. 

Our counselling team says: 

“My one piece of advice when it comes to academic pressure is to ignore anyone who says this is your only chanceI know it isn’t true and it’s an unnecessary pressure”.   

How do I stay focused with all this going on? 

It can be tough focusing on revision when there’s so much else going on in the world. If you aren’t able to work hard all the time, that’s ok.  

To get the best out of your revision, make sure you’re looking after yourself.  

  • Go to bed before 11, as you’ll feel much more able to focus if you’re rested.  
  • Have regular breaks and exercise to get those endorphins flowing. 
  • Study with friends online, or in the library.
  • Ask your family to help you with a revision timetable. 

Our counselling team says: 

“Always ask for help if you are struggling (academically or personally).” 

I feel angry and let down by my school 

During lockdown, the world was forced to focus on the work of the Black Lives Matter movement, with protests about racial inequality springing up everywhere. 

You might feel angry about injustice, as our young ambassador, Emmanuela, did when she wrote this open letter to her schoolAnger can be positive and powerful when it’s channeled into something that gives you control and creates change. 

Is there something you wish you could tell your school, or your MP about what you want to change? Try writing a letter of your own. You don’t have to send it, but even the act of writing might give you a sense of power back. 

The Mix would like to thank our partner, Schuh, for their support in producing this article. 

Next Steps

  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Student Minds is the UK's student mental health charity. Search their website for information, research, and to see how you could get involved.
  • Our Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, you can text THEMIX to 85258
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 08-Mar-2021