Students across the Mitchell Shire were among about 400,000 students across Victoria welcomed back to schools last week as part of a staged return to the classroom.

While the vast majority of students have been learning from home during term two – and will continue to do so – students in prep, grade one, grade two, VCE and VCAL were the first to return.

On June 9, all students will return to face-to-face learning after the chief health officer evaluates the effects the return to school by other year levels has on the increased movement of people and transmission of coronavirus within the community.

As students return to on-site learning, schools are implementing staggered drop-off and pick-ups to reduce the number of adults around school grounds at any one time, as well as staggered break times to manage the number of students mixing across year levels.

While remote learning has presented challenges, a significant number of schools also reported benefits from remote learning – for students who have previously been disengaged or distracted in the classroom, and for high-ability students who have been able to learn at their own pace.

All schools will implement physical distancing measures for their staff, and school staff have been prioritised for voluntary coronavirus testing in the lead-up to the return to on-site schooling.

Broadford Primary School principal Jennene Cooney said it was exciting to have children back at the school.

“It’s so exciting because with no children here it was like an empty building and then when you’ve got people inside and smiling, happy children – it’s great,” she said.

“The children are beside themselves being back and are very excited to be back at school.”

Grade two student Evan, 7, said her favourite thing about being back at school was seeing her friends.

“It was really exciting to see my friends and I had a lot of fun today,” she said.