Northland schools welcomed more than 70 per cent of students back on the first day of Covid-19 alert level 2 restrictions and are opting for transitional timetables to assist a smooth adjustment.
Kamo High School in Whangārei recorded over 73 per cent student attendance and principal Natasha Hemara said it was much higher than after last year's lockdown ended.
Similarly, Huanui College and Tikipunga High School recorded 93 per cent and 70 per cent attendance respectively on day one under alert level 2 this week.
KHS principal Hemara said they learned a lot about the different ways to support students and staff in moving out of lockdown.
"Having been through the situation before, it has made it easier this time as we knew what worked and what did not last time.
"We became a logistics centre as we had 120 students who did not have any access to internet or electronic devices, so we had to, as a school, make sure that we had work available for them."
Hemara said the school took a stance around wellbeing and did not expect students to be in every single class, the way the timetable would normally look.
"In the first lockdown, a lot of our kids did not come back immediately after the alert level went down, but this time around we are seeing the kids are actually buoyant and happy to be back.
"They were a little bit nervous, to begin with, and they are still nervous around their credits but NZQA's announcement about accessing the Learning Recognition Credits has eased it a bit.
"We have opted as a school to have a transitional timetable to focus on wellbeing and to focus on kids' having some enhancement time.
"We have to recognise that our kids were independent learners during the lockdown and a lot of them thrived in that environment. We cannot bring them straight back into the school curriculum, and have to find the balance of transition.
"We have to look at things that have happened in the past in our community. The Spanish flu wiped out a huge number of families in Northland, and when you have lost your whānau and many members of the family to an epidemic, something like this is really scary.
"The role of the school is to understand that we want to get our students back but also have to provide that reassurance, balance and understanding."
Kamo High School students appreciated being back at school.
Year 13 student Charlie Cassidy learned to be more independent while working from home during the lockdown.
"It helped to learn about prioritising tasks. I would lock my phone downstairs while I did all my work."
Student Rebekah Park found she could study for longer by herself.
"I could sit for six hours straight with my laptop and concentrate on my work. I had the freedom of deciding my timetable and doing the things how I wanted."
A Huanui College spokesperson said although masks were not mandatory, a lot of their students and staff chose to wear them.
"We are following the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education guidelines regarding signing in, physical distancing and room ventilation.
"In addition to this, we have had a permanent hand sanitiser station in the quad since the last lockdown, and all teachers are ensuring students apply hand sanitiser in the classroom on entry and we are cleaning the desks and high-touch surfaces regularly.
"We have found the students and teachers have adopted the extra protocols readily and it is not impacting on our learning environment in any way."
With attendance higher than 70 per cent on day one and above 75 per cent the following day, Tikipunga High School principal Alec Solomon said they expected it to be around 85 per cent in the coming week.
With regards to mask-wearing, Solomon said almost all of the staff and more than 60 per cent of the high school's students wore them on the first day back.
"When everyone's doing the same thing, it helps too.
"A wee bit of a challenge was some of our students did not have internet connection or electronic devices. We quickly tried to hand out our devices among the senior kids first.
"On coming back, we have prioritised reconnection with the students.
"A greater percentage of students have come back this year compared to last time, which is wonderful.
"Our staff members checked the student progress during the lockdown and found the performance above satisfactory. We have another hui on Monday to further track the students' progress.
"One of the big differences is we are making a few significant timetable changes. We have prioritised on teaching students and not the subjects."
Tikipunga High head boy Davontae Bristowe said he preferred to wear a mask even inside the school for additional safety and security.
"Although we do not have any signs of Covid-19 Delta variant in Northland, it is still better to be cautious."