This last fortnight or so I’ve been in regular contact with the head teachers and some of the staff at the two local schools on my patch.

They talked me through the myriad plans they had been making to conform to the Education Secretary’s guidelines for blended learning which, he had been saying publicly, might have to be the new normal for some time.

So one of my local primaries set about elaborate arrangements for having some pupils in Monday and Tuesday, the others Thursday and Friday, with a deep clean on the Wednesday.

The other went for a four day week with the major clean on Friday and all pupils in classrooms with their own year groups rather than composite classes.

On top of all of which was the playground marking, the guides to in school distancing, the colour coded loos, the individual material packs and the staggered start and playtimes.

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It was a big ask after weeks and months of providing home tuition via an assortment of online platforms and, in some cases, printing stuff off to deliver where the teachers thought the kids wouldn’t have adequate computer access.

But they went to it with a will.

One school, with the help of the community council, even set up two marquees to maximise classroom availability, and pressed its stage and hall into service.

The other shoogled its classroom equipment around to create a space for key workers’ children to continue to have a five day week workspace.

And then, with the school holidays just three days away, came the bombshell. As you were, said the Education Secretary in a statement. The August term would see all pupils back in full-time education.

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As Argyll and Bute Council’s carefully phrased letter to parents and carers had it: “There remain a number of questions which have not yet been clarified by Scottish Government”.

You better believe it. My own questions would have been: what changed so much in the space of less than a week since the new arrangements had been discussed and agreed with the Association of Head Teachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)?

Was it the high profile media campaign mounted by a number of influential figures, including a former First Minister?

Did a dam of parental pressure break over him? Did his boss have him telt that his plan was being binned?

Whatever the truth of it, the about-turn left a lot of angry teachers and parents spitting tacks. Some of the former weren’t slow about letting the AHDS know how they felt.

READ MORE: Helensburgh parents' safety plea over 'back to school' plans

This was sent to them from another locality in Scotland, but I suspect would be a pretty common sentiment.

“I feel it necessary to share with you my utter frustration, upset and concern regarding this decision today on behalf of the staff, pupils and parents in my school.

“My staff and I have spent the past three weeks, and more, preparing for a partial return to school, moving furniture, creating endless timetables, plans, communicating with parents and so on.

“We do not have time or energy to now undo all of our hard work.”

Another heidie wrote: “In my 15 years as an HT I’ve never fended off parental attacks as I have in the last few days – none of which were of my making.”

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There are a lot of issues in play here, paramount among them the health and safety of both staff and pupils.

But there’s also the need for certainty of parents who want to get back to work and require to be able to plan for that.

A little consistency here would go a long way. Not to mention a little flesh put on the bones of this sudden and completely unexpected announcement.

Teachers can do a remarkable number of things given a fair wind and a fair warning.

None, so far as I know, have yet been issued with magic wands.

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