Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled how lockdown measures will be eased in England – including allowing pupils to return to class in a fortnight.

Swindon parents have welcomed the return to schools - and headteachers are also cautiously positive.

Here is how it will work, based on what we know so far:

– Will all pupils in all year groups return to school at the same time?

Boris Johnson has said all pupils in England will go back to class from March 8.

It comes after pupils in schools and colleges – except children of key workers and vulnerable pupils – were told to learn remotely during the lockdown.

A coalition of unions and professional bodies had called for a phased approach to be taken as they said bringing all pupils in all age groups back at same time risked triggering a fresh wave of infections.

The Department for Education (DfE) has said attendance for all pupils will be mandatory when schools reopen to more children from March 8.

Speaking to BBC Wiltshire this morning, Royal Wootton Bassett Academy headteacher Anita Ellis said she was looking forward to welcoming students back. 

"Teachers and teaching and the profession we’re incredibly adaptable and we take on a challenge and we say ‘we’re going to do this’ and yes there are nerves, yes we are nervous about all coming back," she said.

"We do have some reservations, particularly around the fact there are still no plans to vaccinate teachers and staff within schools – I’d like to see that happen as soon as possible.

"But our plans, our risk assessment plans, when Chris Whitty stood up there yesterday and said what schools were putting in place to make them safer I was ticking off in my head everything we’ve continued to do since last March when we first put our plan together. There isn’t anything additional that we can actually do in schools to keep them safer. That told me that we’ve been doing the right thing all the way through.

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Anita Ellis of RWBA

"I know that the risks are very much still there and we are very acutely aware those risks are very much still there for all concerned, particularly our staff and particularly our own staff.

"The fact is, we know we’ve been doing the right thing all through. I feel confident that we are prepared for this."

Jon Oliver, headteacher at UTC, told the Adver last night he was going through the latest guidance with his staff now. He said: "March 8 has been touted as a date and the sooner the students get back the better, as long as it's safe."

– Will the return of secondary school and college students be staggered?

School and college leaders will be given some flexibility to stagger the return of students due to the logistics of mass symptomatic coronavirus testing.

Secondary schools and colleges will have discretion on how to phase the return of their students over the week beginning March 8 to allow them to be tested before returning to the classroom.

But the Association of School and College Leaders said their return may need to be staggered over at least two weeks due to the “huge logistical challenge”.

All primary school children will return on March 8 and they will not need to take a rapid coronavirus test.

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A student uses a hand gel dispenser at Kingsdown School Picture: DAVE COX

– How will the mass testing system in schools and colleges work?

More than three million rapid coronavirus tests have been carried out among school and college staff and pupils in England – those who have been attending class during the lockdown – since January.

Students in secondary schools and colleges will be asked to use a lateral flow device when they return from March 8 – and if they test negative, they will be allowed to resume face-to-face classes.

Over the first two weeks of term, pupils in secondary schools and colleges will be asked to take three Covid-19 tests on site and one at home.

After the initial testing of students in a supervised environment, parents, carers or the students themselves will carry out twice-weekly tests at home.

Schools and colleges will be asked to provide small testing facilities for those children whose do not have the support to carry out testing at home.

The tests are voluntary and the system is based on trust.

Last week, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), warned parents may not want to test their children at home as it could have implications for their work.

She added that there were “many challenges” about the accuracy of lateral flow tests that the Government would have to make a “compelling” explanation about why they should be carried out.

Ms Ellis of Royal Wootton Bassett Academy said: "Lateral flow tests will continue to be a challenge. We’ve still got concerns about their accuracy and we’ve still got concerns about how we’re going to be able to deliver those in that first week."

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– Are additional safety measures being introduced?

Secondary school and college students and staff are being advised to wear face coverings in all areas, including classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained under protective measures.

Extending the use of face masks to classrooms will be in place until Easter – and it will be kept under review.

Boris Johnson said the additional safety measure – alongside the twice-weekly testing of secondary school and college students – would “offer even greater reassurance” that returning to face-to-face teaching was safe.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has warned that the Government’s recommendation will have a “devastating” effect on deaf youngsters.

But the DfE has said teachers should continue to be sensitive to the additional needs of their students, such as deafness, in deciding whether it is appropriate to wear a face covering.

Primary school pupils and children in early years education will not need to wear masks, but teachers and visitors should wear masks where social distancing isn't possible (for example, moving around corridors). 

Guidance published on Monday said all households with school children would be encouraged to get tested regularly.