Rotorua students could not wait to get back to school today and their teachers were pleasantly surprised with the high numbers through their doors.
Schools and early learning centres were physically open from this morningwith social distancing and strict hygiene measures in place to keep staff and students safe.
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Western Heights Primary School pupil Dziah Kapene, 9, gave his first day back a nine out of 10, the only thing that could have made it better would be if he could play soccer more freely, he said.
But he understood why he could not, for now, and still enjoyed seeing his friends and teachers.
His favourite part of the day was maths, his favourite subject, which he said was more fun at school, where he could solve problems with others.
His sister, Royale, went to Kaitao Intermediate and enjoyed being able to do running races with her friends she had not seen since schools closed.
While the day was fun - and involved learning about hygiene and social distancing - she was not happy about not being able to get too close to her friends.
Their mother, Seany Gage was just as happy as her children to get back to school.
Gage is a teacher aide at Western Heights and said the children were eager to be back but also cautious and quieter than usual as they were unsure how they should act.
"It was beautiful seeing so many kids today."
Gage had been in school for teacher-only days prior to the school opening, preparing resources for the children she worked with.
Rotorua Primary School was filled with laughter and excitement once again as 210 of the 270 pupils returned to school.
The Rotorua Primary School pupils were excited to get back into the classroom and see their friends again.
Taine Acton, 10, said he was happy to be back so he could see his friends and learn more things.
India Rogers, 9, was looking forward to seeing her friends and teacher, matua Sam.
Elodie Lines, 9, wanted to see her friends, learn and see all the "cool teachers" in the school.
Principal Fred Whata said most of those who were not currently at school were cared for by their grandparents and expected everyone to be back in class by the end of the week.
The next seven weeks had been planned out with programmes rich in learning.
This included a week of ta moko which would conclude with a teacher having a ta moko done with the school community. Another week would be Matariki week.
The last week of the term they would open the school's new biking pump track.
"It was so pleasing to see them smiling and running to class and seeing their friends," Whata said.
Rotorua Lakes High School had 84 per cent of students hitting the books again. The numbers were not a surprise for principal Jon Ward.
Ward said there was anxiety from students and teachers around the NCEA but he was confident students had enough time to achieve their qualifications.
NZQA announced last week the end-of-year exams would start 10 days later than planned this year because of the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Ward said having open conversations with students about what needed to be done rather than stressing about catching up was the key to achievement this year.
"Overall, the kids are glad to be back and want to be back. Now we're focusing on following the health and safety guidelines which will be a challenge but, so far, is being followed."
He was unsure when everyone would return to school but said the school was supporting them and their parents until they felt more comfortable to return.
The Ministry of Education said any educational facilities connected to a confirmed or probable case of Covid-19 must close on an individual or group basis to allow contact tracing. It would then potentially close for a further 14 days.