On Monday morning the school bells will ring once more and pupils in P1 to P3 will be welcomed back through the gates and into face-to-face teaching.
By March 22, Years 12-14 will also be back in the classroom. If everything goes to plan, the Executive hopes all pupils will be back after the Easter holidays.
But they return with a warning from two educational psychologists that the narrative of "lost learning" and "catch up" must be avoided.
Dr John McMullen, a senior lecturer at Stranmillis University College and Queen's University, said concerns remain about the effect that extended school closures have had on children.
"Much of the debate has focused on how to help pupils catch up on their 'lost learning'," he said.
"This narrative is profoundly unhelpful and potentially damaging, due to the psychological pressure it places on children and young people."
He said there was an obsession with summative assessment - the benchmarking of pupils with final exams, essays or presentations at the end of an instructional unit - that makes children feel they have "fallen behind" if they haven't learned certain things at certain times.
"But in every year group, pupils are at various stages of development. There is no such thing as 'behind', there is only where children are at," he added.
Writing in The Guardian this week, Dr McMullen said the thinking should be the exact opposite, to measures promoting extended school days, tutoring and summer schools.
"Educators and Government should focus on what interventions will help children most in the long-term," he said.
"Emotional wellbeing is fundamental and foundational for academic attainment.
"A stressed, anxious child will have difficulty learning anything. On the flip side, promoting wellbeing can boost academic outcomes."
It is vital that long-term planning includes improving the availability and accessibility of therapeutic support for those who need it, he added.
"Right now, we need to emotionally regulate before we educate," he said.
"Our children are so much more than the pandemic they have lived through. It's important to remain hopeful for our young people and to help them to hope. Put simply: if our kids keep being told that they are the 'Covid generation', helpless victims in a 'tsunami' of mental illness, at some point they are going to believe it. Alternatively, if we reassure them that it's really hard, but it will pass, it's going to be OK - maybe they will believe that instead."
Dr McMullen said the majority of pupils won't need counselling post-lockdown and instead will benefit from getting back to the structure, stability, predictable routine and clear expectations of school.
"Then they will need space to play. There is growing evidence of long-term negative impacts of play deprivation. The experience of play enhances children's social, emotional, physical, and creative skills, while also supporting the development of early literacy and numeracy ability in an integrated manner.
"If we really want to boost long-term academic attainment, then we need to let the kids reconnect and play together again. A summer of play should be part of that process.
"Recovery must involve re-establishing human connections. A 'recovery curriculum' may help in this regard by supporting a relationships-based approach to teaching and learning post-lockdown.
"But before 'catching up' on learning, let's allow pupils to catch up with each other and with staff. Resilience resides in these relationships."
Dr McMullen's views are echoed by Dr Marie J Hill, chair of the British Psychological Society's Division of Educational Child Psychology (NI).
"We need to ensure that children are emotionally ready to learn and adults are emotionally ready to teach," she said.
"The education system has faced a lack of clarity in being able to plan and prepare for any changes to returning to school.
"When we are feeling significant amounts of change, we seek routine and structure to decrease overwhelming feelings of stress.
"Children look to the adults for safety and security. If the adults they look to are feeling high levels of stress, they themselves can absorb this stress unintentionally. It is vital that the Government communicates clearly and concisely, and with a consistent message.
"Sudden changes in decisions should be avoided as this can increase feelings of stress and have a negative impact upon the psychological wellbeing of educational staff, care-givers and children."
Dr Hill said the focus needs to be about the readiness of our children returning to schools rather than the teachers.
"The gradual reopening of schools will require a high level of planning," she added.
"Therefore, we urge the Government to make contingency plans for the 2021-2022 examinations and the transfer of primary children to post-primary in NI.
"These decisions should be made by the end of the current academic year. Advanced planning and preparation will help lower the stresses felt by educational staff, care-givers and children.
"Play and social experiences should be prioritised over academics.
"Children use play to make sense of the world around them and what is going on. It allows them to express their emotions in a different 'language' in which they can process their feelings.
"Play encourages the release of positive chemicals in the brain, which has a positive impact on our psychological wellbeing, immune system and our readiness to learn.
"Increased experiences of play have also shown to improve academic performance."