RECEPTION, year one and year six pupils began to make a return to the classroom on Monday after more than 12 weeks of learning from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Schools in Blackburn with Darwen had originally planned to re-open to more pupils from June 8, but on June 4 the borough's Director of Public Health, Dominic Harrison, advised against this because two of the government’s five coronavirus tests were not being met.

However, following further reviews of scientific evidence, last Tuesday Mr Harrison issued new guidance advising head teachers to go-ahead and re-open to more pupils.

Prof Harrison said: "A reduction in the rate of confirmed coronavirus infections combined with our support for the local implementation of the national NHS Test and Trace Programme means that enough progress has now been made to allow further re-opening.

"I recognise that each school is different, and a number of factors will need to be considered, including the ability to introduce measures to encourage social distancing.

"The council will continue to work closely with schools to provide advice and support."

In schools within Lancashire County Council's (LCC) authority, the decision to welcome back more pupils was left with head teachers, in consultation with their board of governors, taking into account their individual circumstances.

Public health director at LCC, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said: "I am now satisfied that there no longer needs to be blanket advice given to Lancashire's schools to delay reopening to more pupils.

"We are seeing encouraging signs that there is a reduction in the rate of new infections and thankfully there are now fewer deaths from this virus – but it is important to stress that the prevalence of coronavirus is still higher in Lancashire than elsewhere in the country so the room for manoeuvre is limited."

As the phased re-opening continues, both BwD Council and LCC have said they will work closely with schools to provide them with adequate advice and support.