Nicola Sturgeon faces accusations of being driven by dates not data after she announced plans to have all pupils back in school full-time following the Easter break.

The EIS, Scotland's largest teaching union, said the move risked reversing recent progress in driving down transmission of Covid-19.

It comes after the First Minister told MSPs on Tuesday afternoon that P4-7 pupils would return to class from March 15.

That date would also see in-person teaching resume on a part-time basis for high school students, who are expected to go back full-time after the Easter holidays.

READ MORE: All pupils to return full-time after Easter break

Buildings were reopened for P1-3 children and those in pre-school last month.

Ms Sturgeon said the plan was based on continued declines in infection rates, test positivity and hospital admissions, as well as the strength of Scotland's Covid vaccination programme.

Thanking teachers, parents and pupils for their support during the current lockdown, she added: "The phased approach to school return can be frustrating, I know.

"But it is necessary and it is firmly based on the expert advice that we have received.

"It is the best, and also the most sustainable and enduring, way to get as many children back to school as possible, as safely as possible."

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed the Scottish Government would continue to offer twice-weekly lateral flow testing to all primary, secondary and special school staff, as well as S4-6 pupils.

But Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, said: “While teachers are obviously eager to see young people returning to classrooms, they are also very clear that this must be done safely.

"We are only one full week into the return of P1-3 and the impact of that needs to be assessed before final decisions are taken on next steps.

"The First Minister has said the Government will be driven by data not dates but today’s announcement seems to be quite the opposite of that.

"An overhasty return of all pupils to the classroom setting, could put at risk the progress that has been made in reducing rates of Covid infection during the lockdown period.”

READ MORE: Scots parents 'confident' schools are safe for pupils

Addressing the return of secondary pupils on a blended learning model, Mr Flanagan said: “The First Minister has set out a desire for schools to develop a timetable model for the two weeks before Easter and then abandon it post Easter, with absolutely no cognisance of the workload pressures which that will create for already exhausted school staff, including teachers who will be focusing on providing additional support to students in the senior phase, currently working towards qualifications under a completely new assessment model.

"This additional workload will be wholly disproportionate to the benefit that it will bring for students, whilst potentially undermining preparation work for qualifications.”

READ MORE: Covid blamed as Scottish Government figures reveal record low rate of school leavers finding work

He added: “The announcement of a planned full return after Easter would suggest that physical distancing requirements currently in place for Senior Phase students may be removed despite the scientific evidence of the need for this mitigation.

"This will place those young people, and their teachers, at significant additional risk of contracting Covid in the run in to qualifications and, frankly, seems a reckless approach to be considering.”