And a source tells PEOPLE she’s hoping her return, after a tense, weeklong absence – which began after the star, 45, was “blindsided” by the news that Strahan would be leaving to co-host Good Morning America – will put an end to the drama and tension.
“Kelly was glad to be getting the drama behind her,” says a source.
Emotions ran high over the last week – something Ripa, 45, addressed in her opening speech. “Look I am fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message,” she joked.
But the source says Ripa was not worried about returning to the show.
“Kelly wasn’t nervous to return to work,” says the source. “She was actually quite confident.”
She was also intent on clarifying the reason for her absence, defending her choice to call out sick last Wednesday following the news. (She remained out until Tuesday on three previously scheduled vacation days, despite canceling the trip she and husband Mark Consuelos had planned to take to the Turks and Caicos islands to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.)
“I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with this company I earned the right. And let’s be honest, I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other,” Ripa said Tuesday.
“In that time I gained some perspective,” she added. “I always speak from the heart so I didn’t want to come out here and say something I regret.”
She continued, “So what transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary. In a sense that it started a greater conversation about communication, consideration and most importantly, respect in workplace. And since we’re being honest, I don’t consider this just a workplace, this is my second home. This is a place that I devoted myself to, not just because of you our loyal viewers, but because of all of the producers and the crew who work on this show. We have an incredible team, and we are devoted to one another. We are family.”
Live! With Kelly and Michael airs weekdays (check local listings).