SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- There's a sense of stress and anxiety in the air as students in New Brunswick prepare to return to the classroom for the first time in more than five months, but officials are urging calm and patience as they navigate the new school year, which is right around the corner.

Amy Nelson is soaking up the last few days of summer break before it's time for back to school.

For her daughter, who's going into Grade 5 this year, there are mixed feelings about returning.

"All of the unknowns that are out there, she's apprehensive, but on the other hand very excited because it's been six months without her friends," Nelson said.

But nelson says the staggered start times are a relief, saying it will be less overwhelming for her daughter.

"It's kind of easing in and a lot more one-on-one time to answer questions to go over rules and all the new changes, so I think it will be nice not to have the hustle and bustle of everyone starting on the same day."

Schools in New Brunswick will begin re-opening next week with a gradual, staggered start into each building.

"We will help them lower their anxiety from the first day, along with ensuring they are adequately informed and supported in the understanding these new safety protocols will be part of their new school life," said George Daley, New Brunswick's deputy minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Their new school life includes bringing two clean face masks to school every day -- and a new part of their morning routine to get used to.

The department of education says that students have to be screened for symptoms every morning before school. And if they're sick, they're required to stay home.

Zoe Watson, the superintendent of the Anglophone South School District, says there is uncertainty about what fall will bring and that includes the impact of staggering school's return.

She's encouraging parents to take to this weekend to talk to their children about going back.

"Model calmness, model positivity, about school coming back," Watson said. "Because we know that children sense when parents are nervous or anxious about something."

Families should expect staggered start times between Tuesday and Friday of next week.

Pick-up and drop-off times may also vary. Parents are being told to check with their school or district for details.