LAST week I wrote about my concerns over the gradual easing of lockdown.

As predicted, the return to work for those who are physically unable to do their job from home is already causing issues of crowding on public transport, despite the advice to avoid buses and trains as much as possible.

Many people simply do not live within walking or cycling distance from their workplace, or have access to a car, particularly in the capital, so all modes of public transport are once again filling up during rush periods, putting commuters and staff at risk of infection.

It seems obvious to me a second spike of coronavirus cases and, sadly, deaths is not just likely but completely unavoidable now.

The return to work for some, of course, has implications for those with school age children who are currently being educated at home.

This brings me neatly on to another of my concerns, as touched upon in last week’s column and announced by Boris Johnson on Sunday… the opening up of schools to children other than those of key workers.

We now know the Government’s plan is for primary age children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to school from June 1, after the May half term holiday.

Year 6 is seen as a priority as those children are preparing for secondary school and, as for Reception and Year 1, these age groups are a priority because… to be honest I have no idea.

Presumably this is based on all the “science” we keep being told about and the fact younger children are less likely to suffer badly with coronavirus symptoms should they contract it.

But so little is yet known about this virus that has only been in existence anywhere in the world for the past six months, how can we be absolutely sure this is the case?

Of course, there will always be exceptions to this theory, but never mind them. Or their families.

Anyway, back to sending four, five and six-year-olds into school and how that is going to work. According to the guidance for parents and carers on the Government website, several measures will be in place to help reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19.

These include smaller class sizes, changing classroom layout to ensure social distancing, cleaning surfaces throughout the day, staggering break times and encouraging regular hand washing. This is all well and good in theory, but the practicalities of this new way of teaching are unrealistic and unachievable in many cases.

Indeed, teaching unions have advised schools not to “engage” with the plans for re-opening on June 1 and to “await further union advice.”

Busy inner city schools, like the one my son attends, will struggle to meet the criteria as set out by the Government because they simply do not have the space or resources to spread children out across the site and enable staff to feel protected while teaching.

Teachers and support staff could be putting their lives on the line as they try to do their jobs while putting on a brave face in front of the small children around them.

There is no mention of PPE for staff but how would the children react to their teachers faces being covered with masks anyway?

Speaking of the children, while most Year 6 pupils will understand and be able to follow social distancing rules, for Reception children and even the majority of Year 1, it is going to be almost impossible.

They may be seated apart while being taught but what happens in the playground? In class, how does a teacher get close enough to help with a word they are stuck on, for example?

It is also worth thinking about how younger children will feel returning to a set up they are not used to, while constantly being told to stay away from each other.

Not only are they unlikely to be with all their friends due to smaller class sizes, but they may not be in their own classrooms or even with their own teacher as a result of being more spread out across the school.

Granted parents will not be fined if they do not send their children in, although this may not be an option for those who have to work.

My son is in Year 3 so is not expected to go back to school after half term, although there is talk of all primary children returning for a month before the summer holidays.

While I was heartbroken at first to think he may not ever return to his class and amazing teacher, my priority is and always will be his wellbeing, as well as that of his classmates and staff. Why rush the return with the summer break only a few weeks away?

Surely it would be better to wait until September to allow rates of infection to drop significantly and afford schools time to put proper measures in place.