As the United States continues to battle COVID-19, planning for a back to school experience has been a hot topic for many of us. Is school completely online now? Are we going back, but in smaller class sizes and with shorter days? There is already so much stress that goes into the transition from summer to school for those with autism-- it is a pretty big change in routine, not to mention the social aspects of it as well. This year is going to be even more stressful as there are so many unknowns. This topic has been covered in some of our summer seminar sessions in more depth, but we would like to also provide a brief recap of some important aspects of returning this fall specifically, at both the K-12 and university levels. Advocacy: This upcoming semester may be very hard for some of us, especially when it comes to getting the right help. There is no better time to be working on your self advocacy skills than right now. Things are pretty tumultuous and you want to ensure that your accommodations translate to the virtual classroom. Teachers are going to be just as new to this shift in learning as you are. They are always there to help but being a good self advocate will make sure you get what you need. EMAIL/SCHOOL WEBSITES: It is essential you are checking your email and school websites (Blackboard, Google Classroom, D2L, Moodle) DAILY. Without in person check ins every week, there is no way for you to know when an assignment due date has changed, where to turn homework in, or even if attendance in zoom meetings will count for your grade or not (I would go either way!). Notes, assignments, exams, etc. will all be online and often your teacher (especially at the university level) will not have time to reach out to you if you missed something, or even allow late work. Better to check than to miss a big part of your grade! More importantly, any information regarding your classes and COVID will be expressed via email and is important to see. Schedule: Whether you are staying at home with your parents or living in an apartment/dorm, not having a typical school schedule can be difficult. Oftentimes this leads to procrastination, waking up too late, or forgetting assignments completely. Even if it seems silly, setting a schedule for when you wake up, do lectures, and complete assignments will be very helpful. Setting an alarm on your phone or printing out a visual schedule can work wonders! Semester Off: It is completely reasonable to take this next semester off from university. Depending on each individual's situation, doing school online may be impossible or too taxing emotionally. Talk to your family, social coaches, etc. and work out a plan for returning to school and whether taking this semester off is a good idea for you. There will be many shifts in routine, spontaneous changes to rules, and sensory challenges (wearing a mask to all classes) as we all adjust to learning while staying safe. Social Interaction: This is already rife with hidden rules and taboo, but now throw a virus in the mix! Most likely, sports, clubs, and all other extracurricular activities will be canceled or greatly adapted. It is something to prepare for, knowing how many other parts of education as we expect will change. Social media might be a focus for reaching out to peers this semester!