Parents are overjoyed that pupils will return to the classroom in just under two weeks after months of home learning.

But union bosses have raised concerns that the government hasn’t adopted a phased approach of bringing children back to school.

On March 8, all school children will ditch online learning and go back to face to face teaching.

However, Jerry Glazier, secretary for the Essex branch of the National Education Union, has raised concerns there will still be bubbles of infections in schools.

He said: “The union is committed to schools opening and children being back to face to face teaching but it’s got to be safe.

“We’re concerned that there will be bubbles of infections and there will be staff who will have Covid and that will threaten schools’ ability to maintain being open.

“We’re disappointed that heads and schools haven’t been given flexibility to have a phased return to assess the impact of that and we’re concerned that might result in infection levels in schools affecting the community.

“We don’t want yo-yo-ing in terms of schools opening.”

Meanwhile teachers have also welcomed the news and can’t wait to see children make their long-awaited return.

Andrew Hampton, headteacher of Thorpe Hall School, said: “We are very much looking forward to having the children back. Online learning has been very successful at Thorpe Hall School but it will be a joy to see them back at their desks.

“We are fully compliant with Covid measures like every other school. However we will be extra vigilant in light of the more transmissible variant of the virus.”

Kimberley O’Connell, whose three sons attend St Thomas Moore school, Eastwood Academy and Heycroft Primary School ,said: “I think it’s brilliant for them to get back. For young people it’s affecting them so much.

“It’s not good being stuck inside.”

Nicola Ansell, whose two children attend the Billericay School and Lincewood Primary school said: “I’m happy they’re going back. They are very excited.”