KITCHENER -- Students who returned to the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic this fall are getting an "A" in resiliency from local educators.

They said laughter and playing in the school yard is helping children cope with the stress of COVID-19.

Kids chasing each other at recess are also chasing away negative thoughts about what's happening in the world.

"When I come to school, I feel very excited," Grade 5 student Marissa Cowey said.

"My favourite is being with my friends, because they make me feel better about being at school," said Ayla Ismael, who is in Grade 6.

Some parents said their children have been noticeably more upbeat since school began.

"We haven't had to fight them once to get them to get up and head to school this year," parent Kim Davies said.

Karen Moore, principal at Smithson Public School, said she was worried about students coming back in the fall, but she isn't any more.

"I've just been amazed with just how resilient the students have been," Moore said. "They have adapted to all the new protocols without any difficulties at all."

Julie Mueller, dean of the faculty of education at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the pandemic is providing an important life lesson for all students.

"It teaches them skills, this idea of pivoting or transforming, adapting," she said. "It's part of resiliency."