The Executive has some incredibly difficult decisions to make on Thursday as Northern Ireland plans its pathway out of the latest lockdown.
Whether schools can reopen on March 8 will be at the top of the agenda for Education Minister Peter Weir and his Executive colleagues.
The Belfast Telegraph takes a look at five things that will need to be considered when it comes to pupils returning to the classroom.
Parents have been trying to handle the difficulties of home schooling over the last six weeks.
Already dealing with all the complexities that Covid-19 has brought to everyone's lives, home schooling has become harder to bear for many.
Secondary school pupils have been left to their own devices with the use of Google Classroom and other platforms.
The Executive will be aiming to put an end to home schooling without delay to give pupils the best chance of achieving the highest grades possible.
Lessons from the first lockdown gave parents a taste of what to expect but the Executive will know that nothing beats face-to-face learning.
Special school safety
Belfast's Fleming Fulton became the first special school in Northern Ireland to scale back on attendance last month after cutting down to two days a week.
The school cited the increasing number of Covid cases in the community as the main reason for the decision.
It went against Mr Weir's instructions that special schools should remain open to all students. The Executive will be very aware of the structure school can bring to the lives of those with special needs and will be desperate to allay fears of the virus spreading within those classrooms.
Depending on which expert you speak to, the opinion on what steps should be taken regarding the reopening of schools can be very different.
The Public Health Agency says schools are not a major source of virus transmission, while health expert Dr Gabriel Scally and teaching unions believe teachers must be vaccinated before schools reopen.
However, that is much easier said than done as the demand for Covid vaccines is outstripping supply.
The Department of Health has said that it is focusing on priority groups.
"There are tens of thousands of people in public facing occupations in Northern Ireland," said the department.
"If they are all to receive vaccine prioritisation now regardless of their age or health condition, then many people who are clinically vulnerable will have to wait longer for their jabs."
How the R rate could be affected
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride has said a return to school too early will inevitably end with a rise in the R rate, with infections possibly rising by as much as 50%.
Elsewhere, the chair of the British Medical Association in Northern Ireland Dr Tom Black, stated that opening schools will increase the R number anywhere between 0.3 and 0.6, "so we couldn't afford to do that at the moment" he said.
Dr Black suggested that one possible pathway to the reopening of schools would be to open the gates of primary schools on March 8.
This will then allow the Executive to see what effect that will have before making any decision regarding secondary schools.
Mental health and wellbeing
Children have been trapped in their homes since the Christmas holidays and the Executive will be very aware of the mental health difficulties that can bring.
Parents' wellbeing will also be taken into consideration as to whether schools should reopen.
Not only have pupils been missing out on their vital education, but not being able to see their friends and socialise on a daily basis will have caused huge concern.
Sports is another important aspect of school life that many children will be missing out on - a great opportunity to make lifelong friends - so the Stormont Executive will be hoping any change to the Covid regulations will be a positive step forward.