Senior high school students who donned their uniform for the first time in two months today have described mixed emotions of "tremendous" excitement and rattled nerves.
Many 11 to 13 students in Auckland and Waikato can attend class in person from today - although some schools have chosen to stay shut citing concerns about student safety.
At the gate of Mount Roskill Grammar School this morning there were scenes of elation among students being dropped off and reuniting at the gate.
They must wear a mask, stay socially distanced, sanitise their hands on entry and bring their own food and water, while attending two, two-hour 'block lessons' today.
Year 12 student Lotu said it was preferable than sitting at home struggling to study for NCEA exams in mid-November.
"I've really lost motivation... it just doesn't put me in the right mindset to push in school." he said.
He said, looking at the number of cases over the past two days, it didn't feel safe to return.
"But they gave us the okay, so we might as well take the opportunity."
Year 12 student Jonathan Smith said he was missing a laptop charger at home and didn't quite know what he was supposed to be studying.
While he was nervous about the return he said it felt "astronomically good" to see friends.
Year 13 student Ryan Brath said he would study at school for a few days, but he planned to return to studying at home.
"I've got my grandfather at home and I can't afford to put him at risk of getting Covid-19 so I'm just coming in to catch up and do what I need - and then I'll be staying at home for the rest until exams," he said.
"Considering the level 3 rule is you can only meet with 10 people from two different bubbles outside, I don't understand how it makes sense to put 30 students in a classroom from from 30 different bubbles. I just don't understand how it makes sense... a few of my other mates feel the same way."
In a message to parents, Mount Roskill Grammar School acknowledged everyone was feeling "mixed emotions" about returning.
It said lessons would be posted online for people who couldn't return to campus.
The school held a vaccination clinic over the weekend where 281 people got a Covid-19 shot.