THE head teacher at a Dorset school said he was “disappointed” schools wouldn’t reopen until March 8, but said he was pleased a date had now been set.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs it will not be possible to reopen schools “immediately after the February half term”.

He said he hoped it would be safe to begin reopening schools in England from March 8.

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons: “The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms. I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible including two weeks’ notice of the return of face-to-face teaching.

“So I must inform the House that for the reasons I have outlined it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half-term.”

Reacting to the news, head teacher at Bryanston School in Blandford said: “I think my immediate reaction is the good news is we’ve now got a date we can work to.

“I was a little bit concerned there was still too many ‘coulds’, ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ around the prime minster’s announcement but at least we have a date, March 8, and that gives time now for some proper planning in consultation with the teaching professions and based on scientific advice and advice about guidance and mass testing.

“Of course, as a head teacher, I’m disappointed it’s not sooner, but I understand the reasons why it’s not.

“The key thing now is that a proper effective plan is put in place and we are ready for March 8.”

Meanwhile, MP for Bournemouth East Tobias Ellwood said clarity was needed on how the situation has to look before schools could reopen.

Mr Ellwood said: “Everybody wanted clarity on what is going to happen, and we are not out of the woods yet.

“It is absolutely right that when presenting a road map with specific dates the conditions that need to be met are agreed and announced.

“That gives us all a target as to what we can aim for as a community.

“I would encourage the government to provide clarity as to where we do need to be. Also, what we need to avoid, perhaps what we saw last year, is looking ahead and placing events in the diary.

“In the military, we don’t say we want to march forward at this point in time. You may have ambitions, ultimately you need flexibility to meet the challenges that are presented to us.”

Nicola Greene, BCP Council portfolio holder for schools, added: “We hope very much that the vaccine rollout remains on target along with measures which will enable schools to open up.

“Once this is confirmed, the council will work to support schools to open and children to return.”