SCHOOL staff have been praised for their "tremendous effort" and dedication to children during the coronavirus pandemic.

The leader of Cumbria's biggest education trust said a "debt of thanks" was owed to teachers and support staff who have done their bit to ensure children and young people can continue in their education, despite the closure of schools to halt the spread of the virus.

Lorrayne Hughes, the chief executive of Cumbria Education Trust (CET), said: “I would like to thank all staff for the tremendous efforts they have made to ensure our young people are well looked after during these uncertain times.

“While this is a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for so many, we are very proud of the way both our students and staff have risen to the challenge.

“Students and pupils have responded well to working from home. Our staff have also adapted well to the new world as remote educators.

“I want to thank each and every one of them for their dedication and determination and ability to organise so much in so little time.”

CET runs nine schools across the county and is responsible for almost 4,000 children.

Exams have been cancelled and schools shut as action to combat the spread of the virus has intensified.

Mrs Hughes said it was a huge operation across its 630 staff to ensure the education of so many children could continue outside of the regular school setting.

Volunteers were working at three of the trust's schools last week to look after the children of NHS staff and other key workers.

Mrs Hughes said: “We all rightly marvel at our nurses and doctors and other key service personnel who are keeping the nation going in these most difficult times. I’m sure we can add teachers and our support staff to those we owe a debt of thanks.”

Meanwhile students preparing for GCSE, BTEC and A-level exams at the trust’s three secondary schools, William Howard in Brampton, Workington Academy and The Whitehaven Academy have been urged to continue to work hard.

Mrs Hughes added: “These are not normal times but that does not mean that we are any less dedicated to helping ensure our students get the best grades they possibly can. As the way forward on assessing exam grades becomes clearer, we will be in touch to ensure all those affected have the right information. It is important students continue to work hard.

“This is a demanding time for all, but it will pass. It is our duty to ensure this current situation does not diminish all the hard work students have put in to date, nor impact future study and career opportunities.

“There’s probably never been a time when our values of respect, responsibility and, in particular, resilience have been more relevant for our students.”

From this week, schools across Cumbria have set up hubs to ensure there is continued provision for the children of key workers.