Masks and screens could be needed if schools are to return full time in August, the main teachers union has warned.

John Swinney, Education Secretary said pupils will return to school full time as normal, without social distancing, in August.

But the plan is dependent on coronavirus remaining under control and cases continuing to be suppressed.

Last week Mr Swinney and the Scottish Government said the plan for a return on August 11 was to be blended learning, with pupils spending as little as two days a week in class.

Now however, he said that if the progress with driving the virus down continues then a return to normal is what is being planned for.

The EIS, Scotland’s biggest teaching union, however said it cannot be normal as before.

And parents, many of who have been told by schools to prepare for a two day week, still cannot plan with any certainty as it could revert back to the blended learning plan, if cases rise significantly.

However, it is not clear how lessons will be delivered as the country’s main teaching union warned that some protective measures, like masks or screens, will be needed to ensure staff and pupil safety.

Ms Swinney said it is “possible but not certain” that by August, Scotland would be “well on the way to phase four” of exiting lockdown.

He said “If we stay on track, if we all continue to do what is right, and if we can further suppress this terrible virus, then the government believes that we should prepare for children to be able to return to school full time from August.

“A return to full time schooling would enhance the life chances of our children and young people and start to reverse any damaging impacts of recent months.

“I must stress, this is the aim that the Government is now working towards. However, because it has to be achieved safely, it inevitably remains conditional and dependent upon ongoing scientific and health advice.”

The EIS, said the safety of staff and pupils must be considered and said distancing between teachers and pupils could be necessary.

EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan said: “It would be a grave mistake to believe that the virus has gone away and therefore in the event of schools reopening more fully than currently planned, appropriate mitigations must be in place to protect staff and pupils and prevent flare-ups either in terms of localised resurgence in infection or even a full second wave.

“In terms of schools, this means looking at measures already being used elsewhere such as mandatory face coverings, protective perspex shields, proactive testing of teachers and an appropriate level of physical distancing between pupils and most certainly between pupils and staff, alongside continued protections for vulnerable groups.”

Parents have been anxiously awaiting news of how the return to school will be.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council was against the previous plan and said parent power forced a rethink..

It said: “Parents’ outrage at the Blended Learning proposal as the only plan has led to this huge change of heart.”

Glasgow City Council said it backs the plan for a full-time return but it has a contingency for part-time blended learning if necessary.

Councillor Chris Cunningham, City Convener for Education, Skills and Early Years said: “As we reach the last day of our school term I welcome and support the news announced by the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney that if the spread of the virus continues to be suppressed and that the data and scientific evidence supports it, our schools can be back full time at the start of the new term in August.

“This has been what we have been hoping and striving for and do not want our children and young people to be away from the classroom and their teachers for any longer than was necessary.

“However, please let me reassure you that our school planning for a blended learning model and social distancing measures are ready if we are not able to go straight to full time learning in August.”

The news was welcomed by business leaders who said it was what working parents were waiting for.

Colin Borland, Federation of Small Business said: “ Employers and working parents will breathe a sigh of relief, given the significant economic consequences and practical difficulties of a part-time school system.”