Primary pupils from P1 to P3 will be the first to return to school and will be back in the classroom for face-to-face teaching on Monday, March 8, the Executive has agreed.
Children in pre-school are also to return on March 8.
And in what will be a phased return for all pupils, those in post primary exam years 12-14 will return on March 22.
But on that date, those in P1-P3 will revert back to home schooling, with the Executive keen to have no more than one key stage group of pupils in school before the Easter break.
As many questions have been raised as answers given at Thursday's announcement.
What emerged was a jigsaw puzzle of returns, with the youngest getting the first crack and putting the pieces into place.
Now a family can send a child in P2 back to school, but if they have another child in P6, they stay at home. A third child in first year at secondary school stays home, but a child in GCSE year goes back on March 22, and to allow that child to go back the child in P2 reverts to remote learning.
It is a patchwork quilt solution, but one the NI Executive has pieced together by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.
"We want a gradual rolling of young people coming back to where they belong and that is in the classroom with face to face teaching," the First Minister said.
"The concern was that there could be two large cohorts of pupils back in school at different schools at the same time," she said.
"Society behaves differently when that happens. We took a balanced view that given these young people in years 12-14 were not going to be able to sit exams, we needed to have some sort of objective assessment of their ability.
"In order to do that in the time period available we did have to bring them in for a week before Easter. I absolutely recognise that it's not ideal.
"But our colleagues in health needed one cohort back over three weeks to assess the impact that would have on the R number. It will have an impact.
"Younger children really struggle with home learning in front of a computer. It was felt that primary and nursery children should go back first.
"Then because of pressures on years 12-14 we had to bring these children back before Easter and to bring primary children out to remote learning again. It's a balancing act. I wish it was otherwise. I hope we're in a much better place come Easter."
Explained in black and white, the reasoning seems sound.
Behind that all though is the logistics. There will be little continuity for any family with school age children, little continuity for teachers and in the midst of it all, the remote learning still has to be managed for those age groups stuck in the middle. No child from P4 up to fourth year will see the inside of a school classroom until after Easter at the earliest.
The Executive will assess again on March 18 but the first helping of clarity has been delivered in a rather confusing manner.