NEXT week, schools across the country will reopen their doors to all pupils for the first time since March.

This is good news for pupils and parents and will mark a much-needed return to the school routine for young people who have suffered so much upheaval during the pandemic.

But the road to this decision has been shambolic.

First, John Swinney promoted ‘blended’ learning. Teachers spent weeks planning on that basis, even reorganising classrooms to be socially distanced. Then, suddenly, the Education Secretary u-turned, leaving only a few days to change plans before the holidays.

This chaos could have been avoided if the Government had used the time from May, when it became clear that schools would not return until August, to produce a comprehensive route map for schools to reopen. That should have included giving local councils the funds to recruit additional staff and plan for various scenarios for the restart in August, as well as ensuring that parents were consulted about these important decisions.

East Lothian Council was an exemplar in this respect.

It surveyed all parents and engaged with parent councils about key aspects of its plans for reopening schools.

This helped provide assurance that schools would adopt a nurturing approach here with a strong focus on helping pupils ‘recover and reconnect’ after lockdown.

While a full-time return of schools was the right decision, it is being done on a wing and a prayer.

Funds have been found, but so late that councils have only two weeks to recruit the extra teachers and extra cleaners they need.

The money still is not enough, amounting to about half a teacher per school.

I am confident our teachers and their colleagues will rise to the challenge. I wish I could have the same confidence in Government!