Plans to get all children back to school full-time in late August or September are "a surprise", according to the General Secretary of one of Ireland's secondary school teachers unions.

Yesterday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Government aims to work on "bespoke solutions" to ensure all children can return to schools.

Speaking after a Cabinet briefing, Mr Varadkar said: "We're going to come up with a solution that allows all kids to return to school at the end of August, early September as originally indicated."

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said he did not want to envisage a situation where we continue to leave children behind.

He said the Government had to weigh the risk associated with a failure to provide children with education against other public health considerations.

Mr McHugh said this aim of a full return to school was not in conflict with what has been done to date to combat the coronavirus.

Teachers' Union of Ireland General Secretary John MacGabhann has described Minister McHugh's announcement as premature.

''It purports to be a plan but it is nothing of the sort. It is a set of aspirations.'' Mr MacGabhann told RTÉ News.

The TUI says teachers should be treated like any other workers and they need to be able to carry out their work safely.

He said teachers are happy to adapt their working practices if the public health advice on social distancing changes.

However he cautioned that people have to be prepared for the social distancing guidelines to still be in place by September.

John MacGabhann said the government proposals are a ''mess'', adding it is ''very regrettable that this mess has landed in the public space.''

Read more: Schools reopening - a destination without a roadmap

Yesterday the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland said it "would be very concerned if a differentiated approach to physical distancing is introduced for schools which deviates from that which pertains to wider society".

"Any deviation from the health advice available from the National Public Health Emergency Team would be unacceptable."

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation said that any "orderly and safe reopening of our schools any decisions must be led by public health advice".

INTO General Secretary John Boyle said: "We are demanding clear and practical support for schools to ensure a safe environment for both staff and pupils.

"Priority must be given to measures which support the safety and physical/mental health and wellbeing of staff, pupils and parents in primary schools."