One year ago, on any given school day, the doors of Blackwater Integrated College would have opened to allow around 350 pupils through to start their morning lessons. Times have changed.
It has been a dramatic 12 months in the life of education, but at the heart of it today stand virtually empty school buildings.
Corridors echo with the occasional sounds of solitary footsteps. There is no hustle and bustle of pupils rushing between classes, little general chatter between friends.
School has become very much a lonely place in what has been a year of isolation for so many.
Around 30 pupils arrive for the day at the gates of the school each morning.
"We're running at around 10% of our normal numbers," said Stephen Taylor, who after six years as principal at the Downpatrick college, almost feels like he has gone back to school himself to learn a new set of skills in how best to manage the education of a young person.
There are no calls of stop running in the corridor as pupils race to beat the first bell. The clatter of the locker room has fallen silent. There is no queue of buses for the morning drop-off.
"I'd love to get those days back," said Stephen. "We may not have thought it at the time, but things were much easier where we were."
These days most pupils are dispersed around the country and keeping track of all the needs, questions, even simple things like checking how they are, is a logistical nightmare.
"It's quiet," said Stephen. "You can't get past that fact. I'd love to have the school full of activity, but that's just not the way things are right now. The buzz has gone."
It has all turned into a fine balancing act, walking the tightrope of keeping everyone as safe as possible by following restrictions, but also making sure the pupils get what they need despite being out of sight. Out of sight maybe, but not out of mind.
"It's not just the pupils we need to look after," said Stephen. "It's the teachers too. They all have their own concerns at home. Many of them are working in isolation. It can be a lonely job, so we meet each week, share thoughts and ideas, keep each other motivated and generally help each other out.
"Staying on top of communication has probably been the biggest hurdle. We try to stay in touch with pupils and parents as much as possible. That may mean phone calls once a week to make sure the pupils are coping, or to parents to see if there's anything else they need."
The school has now decided the best way forward is to make sure as many pupils as possible have access to remote devices, so the decision was made to dip into the pockets of the diminishing budget. Some £40,000 has been spent on providing Chromebooks to supply as many pupils as possible with a direct link to school life.
"We looked at the bigger picture and thought this was the best solution both for now and for the future," said Stephen.
From the start of next September all pupils entering Year 8 will have access to a Chromebook to aid their learning.
Something will have to give elsewhere.
"It's hard to see us welcoming back every pupil in the immediate future," he said. "It'll take a lot of time before we can go back to where we were. Making sure everyone has the access they need to learning made the decision to invest in technology an easy one.
"We were finding access to online learning was becoming a game of pass the parcel for families who had more than one child.
"We regularly survey parents on how things are going," he added. "Around 25% of pupils are engaging with their school work between 6pm and midnight."
The amount of work being asked of pupils has improved, but it was the school on its own, providing for its own.
The pastoral side of school life hasn't been overlooked either.
"We made the decision, again from our own budget, to employ a full-time youth worker to help pupils not only in what they face in school, but outside the school environment too," Stephen added.
"Practical support is there now, and will still be there when the pupils finally get back through the doors. That will also allow teachers to teach and not have to deal with other issues that can affect an education.
"It's naive to think all schoolchildren will be back in September. It's going to be blended learning for some time. That's why we've had to safeguard the future and we'll be seeing the effects for years to come."
Next on the to-do list is making sure all teachers know what is expected when grading this summer's exam year students.
Stephen added: "With pupils away for so long, the amount of evidence is much less this year. And there's more pressure on the horizon.
"When I started here six years ago there was underfunding. Teachers are a resilient bunch, but we're all going to need help from the community around us."
Some foothills on the path through Covid have been conquered. A mountain range lies ahead.