Schools may have to carry out weekly tests to find out whether staff and children have contracted coronavirus to help keep everyone safe.

The Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield has said children were too often "an afterthought" during the first lockdown and said "children must be at the heart of coronavirus planning."

She argued that if any local or national lockdown takes place, schools should be the last places to be locked down, after pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops.

She said tests must be carried out 'regularly', which could mean weekly.

It comes as Boris Johnson insists all children in England should return to school from the start of the next academic year.

Ms Longfield said: "Too often during the first lockdown, children were an afterthought. Despite the welcome decision to keep schools open for vulnerable children, too few attended.

"Those schools that did bring back more children before the summer holidays often found classes were only half-full. That must change in September.

"The Government’s promise that all children will be back to school after the summer holidays is a step in the right direction.

"However, if a second wave occurs, children must be at the heart of coronavirus planning.

There are around 8.8 million school pupils in England, 425,200 teachers, plus teaching assistants and other staff members.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said he agreed with the Children’s Commissioner about it being vital to get children back to school as soon as possible.

He said: "The last thing anyone wants to see is the reopening of schools leading to a resurgence in the prevalence of the virus.

Watford Observer: Schools are due to reopen next monthSchools are due to reopen next month

"There are many factors that will contribute to this, most of which are entirely outside a school’s control.

"School leaders are currently preparing their schools for all children to return in September, and are following all the Government and health guidance they have been given in order to make it as safe as possible.

"But the success of September’s return to school rests as much on what happens outside the school gates as within.

"The Government needs to ensure that everyone knows what actions they should be taking to keep everyone safe – we’re all going to need to work together to be successful."