"Nothing beats the buzz of a school in full sail."
Those were the words of Kinsale Community School principal Fergal McCarthy at the end of the first school day in months where all classes had made a return to in person learning.
First to fourth-year students joined fifth and sixth years in schools as Ireland moves towards a cautious phased reopening of a number of sectors.
One Cork school, Coláiste Éamann Rís in Ballyphehane, even welcomed students back with a full Irish breakfast.
"Talk about making our life more difficult," Principal Aaron Wolfe laughed.
The school had promised students a 'Christmas feast' and then moved to the idea of a breakfast, but neither got to happen last year due to the pandemic.
"They were promised a treat so we said we better come good on the promise. They were four months waiting for their cooked breakfast. A lot of them said it made it easier to come back in," he said.
Overall Mr Wolfe said the students settled back in well, with everyone happy coming in the gate - students and teachers alike.
However, he highlighted some concerns about a lack of in-person socialisation for some students in recent months.
"The lockdown has caused huge problems for young people. The adjustment from the online world to the real world will have repercussions for a time to come," he said, adding that online people can be blocked and friends can fall out, and without seeing each other in months, this can cause issues.
"Some of the incidents we had today were the fall-out of friends having fallen out online. It's easy to fall out with someone when you're not going to see them again."
Meanwhile, Fergal McCarthy, principal of Kinsale Community School said that this morning, the "atmospheric buzz" students provided was instantaneous with their arrival.
Mr McCarthy said that while it had been great to open the schools originally with ASD students, and fifth and sixth years prior to the Easter break, "there's nothing beats the buzz of a school in full sail".
He said students enjoyed being back in a supportive environment for learning.
Last September, teachers would have had some concerns about students wearing masks because it could result in missing out on reading facial expressions, but Mr McCarthy said just having the students back in school now is fantastic.
"The kids themselves were just so thrilled to be back with their friends. They're so much more appreciative, I think, of the new reality of being back in school, of being engaged in in-person schooling," Mr McCarthy said.
"There's a real renewed appreciation for the normality that school gives us, and that routine," he added.