CONTROVERSY is growing over the target date of June 1 for primary schools to begin welcoming back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6.

As the date has drawn closer, concern has mounted among parents, teachers, local councils and unions - and with it the opinion that June 1 is far too soon.

The government guidance for how schools might reopen safely has been widely criticised.

The advice included cutting classes to 15 to allow pupils to socially distance.

Head teachers have said this is not feasible.

Confusion has also surrounded some of the other elements of the plan.

This includes keeping children in small groups without mixing with others - which is bound to be difficult - staggering break and lunch times, and school arrival and departure times, cleaning more frequently, and reducing the use of shared items and outdoor space.

Meanwhile Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have not set a return date for schools, adding further weight to the argument that Boris Johnson might be trying to force this issue too quickly.

One of the key issues is that of trust.

Mums and dads are understandably uncomfortable with letting their children back into the school environment while the message from government remains that people should remain at home as much as possible.

Some believe a further five-to-six weeks is needed to mentally prepare parents and pupils for what will be a hugely stressful return to the classroom while the virus is still out there. Many schools also need that time to fully digest the proposals and ensure they have a plan in place that keeps children safe.

June 1 was only ever meant to be a target date and the government has conceded that there won't be a 'uniform approach' to reopening as some schools don't feel they are ready.

But as the date looms ever closer, ministers are under pressure to reconsider it completely.

A return to class may well be a sign of things moving back towards normality and will enable children to resume their school education. But their safety has to come first.