There was a sense of elation and excitement for many Illawarra parents today as they watched their children return to school.
However, the trepidation of returning to face-to-face learning after almost four months of home schooling was real for parents like Tricia Simpson, whose autistic daughter requires "substantial support".
A week after Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students returned to school, the rest of the student cohort were back in the classroom today.
It was welcomed "wholeheartedly" by Bulli mother of two Ange Milthorpe.
Ms Milthorpe had already enjoyed a "celebratory coffee date" with friends before she spoke to the Mercury.
Read more: NSW adds 294 COVID-19 cases, schools back
"I plan on doing yoga later and I've booked a massage for tomorrow before heading back to work Wednesday to Friday," she said.
"Today's a really good day and ends what has probably been the hardest few months of my life.
"The home schooling experience presented plenty of challenges. My husband works full-time and I work part-time in social housing.
"Trying to home-school our son Morris, who is in Kindergarten and our Year 4 daughter Saffy, was at times a stressful experience.
"Things weren't helped by the fact I broke my ankle about six weeks ago and have been hobbling around the house.
"To be honest Saffy was very self-directed in her studies and helped greatly with Morris.
"We did the bare minimum. Our sanity was the most important thing."
Bulli mother-of-two Alex Reszelska was also "elated" lockdown was over and her six-year-old son Tadzio was back in the classroom.
"Working parents who had two or more kids at home for the past three-and-a-half months deserve medals and awards," she said.
"I'm elated Tadzio is back at school. He is not the most placid kid, has tons of energy and loves socialising ... which doesn't bode too well for home schooling.
"We started off ambitiously. I am a writer so I really wanted to pass on my love for words and books onto him, but ended up doing the bare minimum.
"Kudos to our teachers for being able to motivate these little kiddos to put so much effort into learning to read, write and count.
"I couldn't do it at home - it was tiring, frustrating and stressful."
Home schooling has also been a tiring and stressful experience for Albion Park mother-of-three, Tricia Simpson.
But due to COVID outbreaks at Mount Terry Public School and Albion Park High School, none of her three children have returned to face-to-face learning.
"We've been in isolation for the past two-and-a-half weeks. My husband has to work so is living with his parents and one of the girls," Mrs Simpson said.
"At the moment life is really hard being a single parent of a child with a disability in isolation.
"My older girls Ebony and Emerson are keen to return to school.
"I'm happy for them to return but I have some trepidation with Ella going back to the autism unit at Mount Terry Public School.
"Younger kids generally aren't as aware of the consequences of not doing the proper hand hygiene and social distancing. It is even more difficult for children with a disability.
"It is quite scary for me knowing Ella is going to go back eventually."
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