COUNCILLORS clashed over the changing plans for reopening of schools in August amid demands for an apology to parents, pupils and staff.

John Swinney, Scotland’s education secretary, scrapped the original plan for blended class and home schooling after the summer break.

This was after parents were sent details of West Dunbartonshire Council plans for that merged system to manage the risk from the coronavirus – just days before six weeks of holidays.

Labour councillor Douglas McAllister moved an amendment at the full council meeting last week condemning the Scottish Government’s U-turn.

The amendment stated: “This council calls on the Scottish Government to apologise to parents, pupils and all school staff for the appalling mismanagement of the plan to allow our school children to return to schools by August.

“Council calls on the Scottish Government to give a clear indication to West Dunbartonshire Council what additional funding will be allocated specifically for education to allow a safe return to school on August 12 for all staff and pupils.”

The Kilpatrick councillor said he could “only presume” how exasperated the “complete sea change” had been for council staff, who he praised for their efforts to develop a system to meet government guidelines.

Fellow Labour councillor Martin Rooney said: “The way it has been handled has been a bit embarrassing.”

He added: “The Scottish Government sometimes do make mistakes.”

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Councillors Jim Bollan and Lawrence O’Neill both praised First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for how the pandemic had been managed compared to England.

But education convener Karen Conaghan said the Labour amendment was another “SNP bad” reaction.

She said: “This virus is starting to be under control. It’s only right we get our children back to school.

“All our staff have worked their socks off. Having planned for the worst, we are hoping for the best.”

Bailie Denis Agnew deflected the government’s changing plans, saying: “There’s no point in the blame game.”

Council leader Jonathan McColl went further, claiming that the amendment said Labour didn’t want pupils back in classes in August.

He branded it “opposition for the sake of it”.

He said: “I don’t know when it’s safe for my step-son to return to class. I will rely on scientists and medical professionals.

“I would urge against scare mongering. This administration will not allow schools to reopen until it’s safe for pupils and staff.”

Cllr McColl blamed Labour for being part of Better Together in 2014 with the Tories and said they should urge their “Tory buddies” to turn on the money taps to Scotland.

The two local Tory councillors voted with the SNP to reject the criticism of the Scottish Government.