SIGHS of relief from some quarters, silent screams from others.

It was almost certain that Nicola Sturgeon's daily briefing yesterday would include the news that schools are to return full time from August but even more certain was the knowledge that the announcement, whichever direction it took, would cause both pleasure and consternation.

Despite noble protestations about being on their best behaviour during a national crisis, despite pledges to pull together for the collective good, our children's education rapidly became an exercise in political point scoring with oars stuck in from all quarters.

In the early days of the pandemic it was interesting to see cries of "close the schools" as if this was an easy or straightforward step to take; the lack of acknowledgement of the broader role schools play in the lives of children and families seemed entirely overlooked by some.

When schools did close, there were the headlines demonstrating just how vital they are in our communities. Stories about food vouchers and feeding programmes were at the heart of this as the penny dropped as to the fundamental role schools play outwith maths and literacy.

We talk about teachers "going back to work" when the reality is that a great many have been grafting throughout the lockdown to provide what they can. The patchy provision, though, across the country, with variables from local authority to local authority and from school to school within council areas, has been a failure for young people.

Yet so much has been quietly going on behind the scenes. I was in a nursery school in Glasgow's East End on Tuesday with the city's director of education and it was inspiring and heartbreaking to watch as parents brought their wee ones in for individual, socially distanced little graduation ceremonies before being handed boxes of food, clothes and toys to take away with them.

Since the closures in March there has been a steady roll of concerns. Parents greatly stressed and frustrated at having to home school while working full time - and that's just the lucky ones. Concerns also that continued school and nursery closures would further impact the economy as the workforce, stymied by lack of childcare, was unable to return to full employment.

Teachers have been dealing with the high pressure situation of fretting about their pupils, worrying about concerns for the future of education provision and being troubled about what threat to their and their family's health a return to work might entail.

There was a split, with the varying sides often politically motivated, about what the next best step was. John Swinney was pilloried for his June "u-turn", the criticism a bit of political mischief as those who'd kept the lid on their party political instincts finally had an excuse to pop back out of the box. It seemed largely reasonable that as the science changed the school recommendations would too.

You can understand calls for certainty in an unprecedentedly uncertain time yet also see why cast iron guarantees are not possible.

Any contingency plans for blended learning, rather than hard graft set for the bin, are surely still vital pieces of work to be used in localised closures or if covid-19 infection rates begin to increase and blended learning is necessary.

At the heart of all the competing narratives are young people missing out on full time education, extra-curricular activities and socialisation. And again, that's just the lucky ones. Others, with no outdoor space to play in or wifi to use or a steady three meals to eat, have fared far worse.

There's no doubt schools need to reopen for the education and welfare and wellbeing of young people. There's also no doubt pupil, parent and teacher fears need to be assuaged for that to happen successfully. Young people will be coming back to class having experienced a different world - some will have endured the loss of loved ones - and their new reality will be altered too.

One of the barriers to overcoming fears is the perceived muddy communication from the Scottish Government. Why, teachers are asking, is Scotland remaining in Phase 3 but schools are fully reopening when that step is not listed until Phase 4?

One of the contingencies school return hinges on is enhanced surveillance but we've been told that only "some aspects" of that will be ready for August - meaning some aspects will not.

The narrative around masks conflicts. The initial government advice about masks was that they offer little protection to the wearer but are an important part of the toolkit in avoiding spread to other people. Yet now teachers are being told, they might wear masks while in prolonged close quarters with young people to protect themselves.

And what impact does a mask wearing teacher have on pupils when the message being sent is that the teacher must protect themselves from the child?

Other concerns focus around social distancing rules being relaxed for schools. Secondary schools should endeavour to implement social distancing but not if it impedes the full reopening of a school. So, try to stay safe but not if it's inconvenient.

The new guidance document also says movement of adults should be minimised between schools, meaning visits from social workers and educational psychologists should happen outdoors or alternatively be carried out digitally. When talk is of a looming mental health crisis among young people and the children's commissioner is calling for enhanced mental wellbeing support in schools, are digital pastoral interventions enough? And where are the specific transition plans for ASN children that charities such as Autism Scotland called for?

Bear in mind, now this announcement has been made older pupils also face the anxiety of school exam results on Tuesday. We're about to have yet more politicking about the country's education system.

Unless we face another sudden spike, schools will reopen in August and it's going to be up to teachers to make that work. While the majority are extremely keen to be back in the classroom with their pupils any concerns need to be addressed before then with openness and clarity - and quick.

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