Senior students returning to school in Auckland today say they want to get back in the classroom. They're sick of Zoom calls and emailing teachers for help.
They say it's been a struggle to stay motivated as lockdown dragged on, despite their teachers' best efforts.
But now they're replacing the frustration of lockdown with the uncertainty of gathering at school as Covid-19 cases climb across Auckland.
Education minister Chris Hipkins announced last week that Year 11, 12 and 13 students in Auckland and Waikato could return to school from today.
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But feedback from teachers and students has led some schools - including Takapuna Grammar, Manurewa High, Sancta Maria College, Western Springs College and St Kentigern - to stay closed for at least another week.
Other schools are forging on, allowing some or all seniors back to prepare for exams and assessments.
Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault said a straw poll found about 70 per cent of students planned to return.
The other 30 per cent might already have their qualifications, be working, or be disengaged for "a whole range of reasons - not necessarily because [they're] wagging".
Students didn't have to return if they didn't need to or were worried about the virus, said Couillault, who is president of the Secondary Principals' Association.
"If you have got what you need out of the qualification and you don't need any support with external exams or additional stuff to get your qualification, continue working from home."
But if they were uncertain about exams, needed more evidence for an Unexpected Event Grade, or might benefit from collaborating with friends in person, school was the place to be.
"It's not compulsory to attend."
Pakuranga College head girl Noyiuki Obasuyi planned to come to school today - mostly to see friends - but not to stay the whole week.
"It's nothing really to do with education, to be honest. A lot of people have adjusted to doing work at home, but at the same time, it's good to also get in the classroom."
Lockdown had been "pretty hectic and stressful" for the 18-year-old, who couldn't complete some internal assessments and had also been trying to accommodate her little brother who had autism.
Pakuranga students had been doing derived grade exams from home, but some had poor internet and one friend had failed an exam because her computer stopped working.
Such students might feel they had to come back to school even if they had health concerns.
"We're just hoping that everything will be under control," she said. "I really empathise with all teachers, because students still somewhat have a 'choice' to return."
Some students are unlikely to come back at all - Tangaroa College principal Davida Suasua last week told RNZ nearly 40 per cent of students were working full time and many weren't likely to return, or go to university as they had planned.
Alfriston College student Denzel Siasau wasn't intending to come back but changed his mind after talking to his mum.
He started working full time at a local supermarket when lockdown started; his 12pm-9pm shifts, six days a week left little time for schoolwork.
"That was a personal choice for me - I was already on top of my credits," the 18-year-old said. "I just wanted to help out at home financially any way I could."
Siasau is still working part-time and didn't think he needed to come back - he already had NCEA Level 3 and was planning to work in construction.
But his mum convinced him to finish the year, despite her safety concerns. Siasau is fully vaccinated.
Papakura High head boy Elijah Olano, 18, worked full time at the same supermarket over lockdown. With nothing to spend money on he was able both to save and help out his family, he said.
He had to squeeze in schoolwork at night. "I wouldn't say I'm the best at attending online classes but behind the scenes I am doing the work."
He found his motivation being sapped as the year slipped away, but eventually snapped out of it, realising he had to be a good role model for other students and his siblings.
Olano was looking forward to being back in class and getting help with assessments, but he knew many classmates didn't want to return because of the outbreak.
"I feel alright going back. As long I'm vaccinated, I'm wearing a mask, I've got the proper PPE."
Botany Downs Secondary College student Mila Veljkovic said despite teachers' best efforts, "the further lockdown extends, the less and less people are doing their work because it seems kind of hopeless".
"We have things called breakout rooms and no one has cameras on, no one's really communicating. So it's much more difficult to have a sense of enjoyment and learning."
But many students were also confused that the Government would let them return to school with cases in triple figures, the 16-year-old said.
"It feels like we're kind of the guinea pigs for getting out of lockdown because it just feels like it's not safe for anyone else to, but suddenly our exams are being prioritised rather than our health."
ACG Sunderland head girl Isha Takyar also found online learning wasn't as effective as in-person.
"With face-to-face learning we just understand the materials better. There's always classes not being as talkative over Zoom, with internet issues and everything [and] there's a bit of a problem with that self-consciousness, like you don't want to show your house or seem like you have too big a house."
Takyar would only be attending small tutorials and Cambridge exams in coming weeks. The 17-year-old felt safe as she was fully vaccinated but knew there was anxiety among her peers about coming back.
"It's all the uncertainty about what's going to happen. With case numbers, once they come out you realise how bad the situation is...We don't know when we're going to socialise again."