SCHOOL bosses say it's "business as usual" despite the majority of students being forced to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Both New Rickstones and Maltings academies in Witham are now only open to a dozen pupils whose parents have been categorised as key workers by the Government.

The schools are being staffed each day by two teachers and three members of the senior leadership team.

Teachers are scheduled to work on site one day per fortnight but are also working remotely and providing online lessons for students not attending school.

Damian Lee, who is executive headteacher at both schools, said: "Staff are not on holiday. They are working from home, planning, setting and marking work.

"They are supporting parents and encouraging students with their daily routines, such as getting up in the morning, getting dressed, doing exercise and having three square meals a day rather than snacking.

“Staff have gone above and beyond, working to run the sessions. The students who are in are doing art, cooking and outdoor activities. The staff are being so creative with their ideas for all students.

“The advantages of being part of a Trust is that we can all share and pick out the best practises for us. The Academies Enterprise Trust has been really good; we have a daily conference call with the CEO to discuss the Prime Minister’s latest announcements.

“We are doing as much as we can to keep everyone motivated.”

The two schools are using a Google classroom programme to set students work in key subjects such as English, maths and science.

Virtual assemblies are also being held once a week and the schools are contacting all pupils on a weekly basis to ensure they are maintaining good health.

Matt Davies, head of English at New Rickstones, said: "We have forged relationships in our classrooms and we can use that to remain focused, which is so important at the moment.

“Our students are adapting really well.

"They adore the videos being uploaded and there is that familiar classroom banter going on, which is also important. Whereas in class you might feel a bit self-conscious to get involved and make a fool of yourself, you do not mind as much via video.”

Academies Enterprise Trust, which runs both schools, says it is delivering lunch to 273 children on free school meals and has also provided 32 pupils with laptops to allow them to work from home.