There were joyous scenes of friends reunited as pupils in P1-P3 made their way back to school for the first time this year.
And while it was an exciting and nervous day for children and parents, it was also one teachers and principals will remember for years to come.
In east Belfast, the staff at Braniel Primary went all out to make new memories for their children and welcomed them back with a morning of outdoor activity, song and dance - and a special treat was waiting for them inside the school gates to help break the ice.
Even principal Diane Dawson couldn't resist the temptation, and helped herself to a couple of 'pokes' from the ice-cream van the school had laid on to welcome their kids back.
"We knew there were a lot of parents and even the pupils themselves who would be anxious about coming back into the school environment," she said.
"But the staff did a magnificent job of making the day extra special for all the pupils. It was the best day ever!"
Braniel PS had constructed three balloon arches for the children to walk through on their first day back in the classroom, and with the park in the school grounds open and the weather bright and clear, it was a fun reintroduction as the pupils, and some of the staff, danced their way in.
"I don't think any of us really realise the effect being away from school for so long has on the pupils so we wanted to do something special," said Ms Dawson.
"You could tell a lot of the children were a little anxious and nervous. They had been away from their friends for so long, and at such a young age it's important to start reconnecting first.
"It did take them 15-20 minutes to start to re-engage with each other, but I think the ice-cream van helped."
For some of the P1 pupils, more than half of their school life so far has been spent away from the classroom, with barely time to make new friends.
"It's only half of the family reunited. We can't wait to see the rest of the school return now," she added.
She is now hoping the Executive allows the P1-P3 pupils to remain in school rather than revert to remote learning on March 22.
"It will be hard to let them all go again, and it will be hard for them to go back home," Ms Dawson said.
"The youngest need to stay in school. That's what we want to hear now.
"Most of the comments today have been 'I've missed my friends'.
"I don't want them to have to miss their friends again in two weeks' time.
"It was a very special day.
"We're just delighted to see the smiles on little faces again after being away for so long.
"Now it's time to start making new memories."