Teachers and staff at schools across North Devon are working over the Easter holidays to provide support for the children of key workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Government ordered schools to partially close a week before the holidays were due to start, remaining open solely for children of key workers such as NHS staff, care workers, delivery drivers and those in the food industry who can’t be cared for at home.

In what would have been the first week of the school holidays, 49 schools across North Devon and Torridge and 166 schools across Devon have provided care or made provisions to do so.

In North Devon there has been a mixture of schools opening independently and others pooling resources and support at one location.

Caen Community Primary School has offered support to Braunton Academy, and Great Torrington Bluecoat has welcomed pupils in Key Stage Three from Great Torrington School. Chulmleigh Community College is welcoming pupils from the ages of three to 16 years.

Marwood School headteacher, and chairman of the Devon Association of Primary Heads, Alun Dobson, said: “Staff across the county have been really willing to do their bit. Many schools are opening independently to respond to the needs of parents. Others are acting collegiately to provide care and support in a central location.

“Many of those that remain closed at the moment have not had any demand from families but are on alert if they do.

“A number of families had already booked holidays for the Easter break and, although they haven’t been able to go away, have remained home with their children.

“However we stand ready to do our bit over the next few weeks whatever happens.

“The Government is clear that schools should only be used for the children of key workers when they can’t be cared for at home.

“We have worked closely with Devon County Council to ensure we can play our part and the staff have been amazing as we prepare for whatever is to come.”

Devon’s head of education and learning, Dawn Stabb, said: “I want to thank heads, teachers and school staff for the way they have worked alongside the local authority to respond to this fast-moving crisis.

“It means that the people we depend on - in the NHS, our care staff and all the other critical workers, such as our own school staff - can go about their vital business knowing that their children are being well looked after.”