The sound of friends reuniting is set to fill hallways and classrooms on Monday, when schools across the Riverina return from lockdown.
The lifting of stay-at-home orders in the Riverina announced on Thursday confirmed primary and high schools will be returning to face-to-face learning from September 13, just one week before the start of school holidays.
Schools will be opening with level three COVID-safe measures, meaning students in Year 7 and above will be required to wear masks indoors and outdoors, but they will not be mandatory for primary school students.
Staff will have to wear masks both indoors and outdoors, and will have to check in when entering the school.
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Parents and carers will not be allowed on school grounds and will need to follow social distancing guidelines during drop offs and pick ups.
Only essential visitors will be allowed to enter the school and they will need to check in and wear a mask.
There will be no excursions, assemblies, bands and sports (other than for class) until the restrictions ease further.
Principal of Wagga Wagga Christian College Phillip Wilson said despite the short notice his school was fully prepared for the return of face-to-face learning.
"There's a lot of measures with masks and distancing but we are ready," Mr Wilson said.
The end of lockdown for schools means many children will be re-united with their closest friends for the first time since August 14 and Mr Wilson said many will "definitely be happy" to see one another again.
The potential of the region being plunged back into lockdown does hang over the schools, however Mr Wilson said they would be ready for any situation.
"I think what the region has shown is that we can quickly shut down and we can quickly start up," he said.
Wagga Wagga High School principal Chris Davies said there was a lot of positivity among staff towards the return of face-to-face learning, but admitted there would be challenges.
"The staff I have spoken to have been reasonably positive but there are some nerves to see what it looks like," Mr Davies said.
"It's obviously going to be challenging for students because they've had a long break so it's a big change to their routine and also the mask wearing is a big difference to some previous restrictions."
Mr Davies was full of praise for his school's teachers and students for the resilience and positivity they have shown in adapting to different restrictions over the past two years.
The return of face-to-face learning will be relatively short-lived with school holidays scheduled between September 18 and October 4.
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