Orange East Public School principal Glen Bourke had a simple answer when asked what it was like having children back at school for the first time in nearly two months: "It is a joy."
About 30 per cent of the school's students made their way through the gates on Monday for the first time this term, and Mr Bourke said it had brought the school back to life.
"It's been fantastic. Schools are lonely places without students and everyone's been happy to have students back," he said.
Orange East has begun bringing students back as family groups, while some schools have been bringing back students as year groups.
Each school has communicated its plan to parents and carers.
Mr Bourke said those parents and carers had given schools phenomenal support during a turbulent time with plenty of uncertainty around schooling.
"Some parents have understandably found it a challenge to balance working from home with supervising school work," he said.
"By and large, parents are happy to see students returning, even gradually, and it's been a challenge for them, managing working from home and managing and helping with school work.
"It's difficult to juggle those by those challenges but the community has been tremendous."
He said the difficult times brought on by coronavirus had shown just how important communities are - and how strong the schools communities in Orange were.
Mr Bourke also wanted to recognise the work staff had put into the transition to at-home learning when the pandemic begun to set in.
"I'm amazed at how quickly they've adapted," he said.
"Staff were quite anxious about it but within a week the professionalism of them to put all their materials in an online space and to put it in the kids' hands was incredible.
"You wouldn't do [remote teaching] if you were given a choice but seeing the way they've adapted. It's really been one of the most impressive things I've seen in my career."
Mr Bourke went around to each classroom on Monday morning to greet each student and class, with the school at around 30 per cent capacity - a figure which is expected to drop across the week to mid-20s, with social distancing to be enforced.
Each school has a different policy on returning - contact the school directly if you have any confusion.
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