IT'S been a roller coaster ride but the region's school students are beginning to plan their end of year formal celebrations.
Initially banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last week the state government softened its stance and allowed formals to go ahead under strict conditions.
No school is more excited than the New England Girls School (NEGS), which Year 12 student Sheridan Bennett said was hard at work planning for "a very different type of celebration".
"We are so excited and we are really lucky to have a group of dedicated parents that are committed to helping us make it happen," Ms Bennett said.
"It's something the girls certainly look forward to every year and it is really a celebration at the end of a lot of hard work."
Under the state government's Covid-safe guidelines, formals can take place after the final HSC written exams on November 12, and schools can only have outdoor dance floors with a maximum of 10 guests per table.
Fellow Year 12 NEGS student Grace Cassidy said this year's formal would be very different to years gone by.
"It is mostly being organised by parents and we are really lucky to have a group of parents willing to put in the effort to put it on and allow us to just focus on our studies," Ms Cassidy said.
"I don't think a lot of other schools would be lucky enough to have that and we're really grateful."
Ms Bennett said the COVID-19 pandemic had helped strengthen the bond between her classmates.
"I really hope it's just our year that's impacted because while it has been a difficult year, I wouldn't want another year level to go through it," she said.
"We will forever be the class of Covid and I think it will be something that we will all share.
"I know it has certainly brought the boarding students closer together and our year level as a whole."
School formal guidelines include:
- Reduce mingling and attendance where possible.
- Hold dancefloors outside or in well ventilated areas.
- Dancing with partners from outside the school community is allowed only if partners are from the same local community and have an established relationship and normally socialises with the student cohort.
- Ensure the capacity of the event does not exceed four square metres per attendee.
- Restrict tables to 10 people.
- Students to bring your own pens for yearbook signing.
- Follow and promote good hand hygiene practices.