From today, Rotorua schools will see the return of many students after weeks of remote learning under Covid-19 lockdown levels 3 and 4.
Kaitao Intermediate principal Phil Palfrey said they were expecting about 170 of the school's 370 students back through the doors today.
Many were still staying home but they were expected to turn up eventually, he said.
Palfrey said there were several precautions and health and safety measures the school would take, without going over the top. These included taking children's temperatures as soon as they arrived.
Palfrey said the toilets especially were an area of concern to him, so a one-in, one-out policy was in place. Yellow spots outside will indicate where students need to stand while waiting.
"We are going to be strict on toilet behaviour ... but, at the end of the day, it's about children having to get back into their learning."
While teachers would retain an online presence, the school's priority would be the students at school, he said.
"We are all very much looking forward to the students being back. I think a lot of students are looking forward to coming back and I know a lot of parents are happy for them to be coming back."
Palfrey said school was where children needed to be, not just for the academic benefit, but also social and physical reasons.
"Our challenge is just to get them back into their learning as fast as possible and enjoying being back at school, realising education is key to their future."
Palfrey also wanted to acknowledge the school's teachers, who got online and stayed present in their students' lives.
Owhata School acting principal Callie Raureti said they were expecting about 200 students to return, out of 265.
Raureti said the school had come up with five golden rules to help children learn about being back at school under level 2 requirements.
"We wanted to ensure it was clear for all age groups and wanted it to have an element of fun."
The focus for back-to-school would be learning these golden rules while reconnecting with each other and slowly getting back into routines.
"We are absolutely excited to be seeing many of our tamariki this week.
"We have established routines for tamariki to feel brave and confident about being back at school."
Reporoa College principal Brendan Carroll said staff were excited.
"Being teachers, we do miss our students, so we are quite excited to see our students back."
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website
Carroll said the atmosphere on the first day back might be a bit of an anxious one for students, who were worried about having fallen behind, and for those who were anxious about Covid-19.
Only Year 10 to 13 students will be at school today.
For those students who weren't coming back to the school site yet, he said the school would support them with online learning, but it would not be the same as when all students were learning remotely.
Rotorua's Seany Gage has children who attend both Western Heights Primary School and Kaitao Intermediate. She also works as a teacher aide at Western Heights.
Her children were excited to see friends, she said.
"They've enjoyed being at home and doing homeschooling, spending more time as a family."
However, she said her daughter, Royale Kapene, missed her teachers and friends especially, and she thought her son, Dziah Kapene, had been a bit bored at home.
Gage said, as a teacher aide, she had been in school for teacher-only days and preparing resources for the children she worked with.
During lockdown, she had to leave learning packs outside the houses of the children she worked with, as there was limited access to the internet.
"I'm really looking forward to going back to school. The children are awesome and I can't wait to see them."
Glenholme Primary School pupil Keira Pemberton, 7, said she was looking forward to seeing her friends and teacher. She was also excited to get back into writing, reading and some maths.
Keira said home learning had been "interesting and fun" and included a teddy bear hunt, painting and art.
Lucas Pemberton, 9, said it would be great to meet up with all his friends.
He said at home they had carried on with learning, doing maths, reading and writing.