HEADTEACHERS in Worcestershire have spoken of their joy that they will be welcoming pupils back to schools next month.

After initial rumours, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed schools were set to reopen to all children on Monday, March 8 yesterday.

The government has prioritised a school return over reopening other parts of society, but the move has been criticised by some education union leaders, who wanted to see a phased return of year groups.

Bryony Baynes, headteacher of Kempsey Primary School, was one of those who has welcomed the news.

“We have plenty of time now (to prepare), I think it is the right thing - it will be lovely to have all the children back in again,” the headteacher said.

“A couple of members of our staff have had the vaccine, the rest of us haven’t. Obviously it would be great if all teachers would have been vaccinated. I think it would make everybody breathe a lot easier.

“But I don’t think we are going to get it, we will wait until our number comes up.

“All primary schools have been given lateral flow tests, and we do those twice a week before coming into school. I think we now have to trust the government. If the government says it is safe for children to be back in then let’s go for it. We hope it is all going in the right direction, and there is light now at the end of the tunnel.”

Gareth Doodes, headmaster of The King’s School in Worcester, said in a video post to parents: “I wanted to give a message to all my pupils just to say how much we are looking forward to welcoming you back, virtually or actually in person (this week).

“I must say I’m really looking forward to be able to look out the window and see the school full of pupils again - the date of March 8 is firmly in my mind, as we look ahead to prepare for that happening.”

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Reader Kelly Tippin said the schools announcement was what she had been waiting for. But another reader, Greg Hopkins, said: “I wouldn’t open anything until we are at least 50 per cent vaccinated.”

Education union general secretaries voiced their concerns describing the return of all students as a ‘big bang’ that could have to be quickly reversed.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We share the government’s aim of bringing all children back to the classroom as soon as possible, but we remain concerned about the idea of a ‘big bang’ approach of a full return of pupils all at the same time.”

And Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, added: “It is better to be cautious than to risk further closures and yet more disruption to children’s education. A third lockdown for schools would be more devastating than taking our time now.”