SCHOOLS are facing many challenges during the 'surreal' time of the coronavirus pandemic.

From providing for the children of key workers throughout the lockdown, to supporting students after the cancellation of exams, schools are facing many challenges.

Guy Nichols, headmaster at The De Montfort School, Evesham, said: “It’s been a bit surreal because it’s all happened so quickly. Last week we gradually started having different year groups go home. Because we had a lot of staff off self isolating.”

Schools are running on skeleton staff with only the children of key workers attending.

Mr Nichols said: “We had 20 children in on Monday, they were very good and very well behaved. We were doing social distancing, it’s very carefully orchestrated and the children all had their own work spaces.

“We actually had too many staff volunteer. We have got to retain minimal staff while still trying to provide for the kids. I have been really impressed with the staff and their willingness to put themselves in a difficult situation. They have been very brave.”

The staff have put lots work and materials on the school's shared area so the children being kept at home have plenty to keep themselves occupied.

Mr Nichols also praised Class Caterers who have been delivering meals every day to families that rely on the free school meals.

"For some people if they can't get out they are starting to worry about getting food for their children. So that's something we have had to sort out."

All exams have been cancelled and the students grades will most likely be decided on a combination of mock exam grades and coursework.

Mr Nichols said: "It's an extremely difficult situation for the children. The Year 11s and 13s were very disappointed because we were expecting some very good results.They were working really hard. They have just finished the year 11 mocks on Friday. They had heard on the night before that the exams were not happening but they still came in to show what they could do."

Mr Nichols said:"There will be quite a lot of year 13s who are anxious about their unconditional offers from universities."

"I was quite surprised because I thought the government might postpone the exams. Obviously the government has had to make this very difficult decision. I feel sorry for the children who have worked really hard. But I don't blame the government for that."

Liz Hayward, executive principle of the Advanced Trust, said: "Teachers have volunteered to come in, our staff understand the importance of supporting parents at this time. We have also been looking carefully at teachers' volunteering to ensure that our staff who are vulnerable due to underlying conditions do not risk themselves."

"In three of our schools we have no pupils who are coming in until after the Easter Holiday as parents and carers have elected to keep them at home, however when we do have pupils in they will be following a program of lessons including core subjects and the whole round of wider learning. While it is very difficult to know what circumstances we will be in following the Easter break we may have to consider that the learning we could offer would be delivered in a different way as numbers will be smaller and standard learning would be very intense in these circumstances."

"Pupils are managing in very different ways, much like everyone else. They are scared and confused, unsure what will happen next, but they are being supported even when at home with regular contact from their schools and trusted adults. This means that when things start to return to normal all that needs to be in place will be and we will be able to help our students through their anxiety and return to the day-to-day as soon as possible."