THOUSANDS of children left schools across East Lothian at lunchtime today (Friday) as they headed home for an unknown length of time.

East Lothian Council says it is opening a number of children’s hubs in each of its school cluster areas for youngsters whose parents are identified as key workers or who are vulnerable.

The local authority intends to use digital technology to continue lessons for youngsters who were sent home with packs of school work, including books and usernames and passwords to access Google classrooms.

A youth football club is also opening its clubhouse for young people who cannot access the internet to connect free for homework.

Preston Athletic YFC, based in Prestonpans, have invited children along between 1pm and 3pm during the week, with food and drink also being supplied to the youngsters.

The club said:  “As of Monday, March 23, we will open the clubhouse Monday to Friday, 1 3pm. We welcome children who do not have internet access at home to come along and use our internet free off charge to do homework; they must bring their own tablet or laptop.

“We will give all children a free juice and biscuit, adults can have a free hot drink. Children can also have a kick about on the 3G if they wish.”

One of the club’s coaches has offered to produce soup and sandwiches for children who attend and Sugar Rush Creations has offered to provide all youngsters who are doing homework in the clubhouse with free popcorn.

Meanwhile, East Lothian Council has announced it will have children’s hubs at the following schools: Dunbar Primary School (John Muir Campus); St Mary’s Primary School/Haddington Primary School (infants building); Law Primary School, North Berwick; Preston Tower Primary School (infants building), Prestonpans; Sanderson’s Wynd Primary School, Tranent; and Pinkie St Peter’s Primary School, Musselburgh.

The hubs are expected to be available to children who have at least one parent identified as a key worker and no other adult at home, and will also oversee the distribution of free school meals to eligible children and continue providing support for learning to children with additional support needs.

The council’s chief operating officer for education Lesley Brown said: “This is an extremely challenging time for our school communities, including parents, carers, children and staff. I’d like to thank everyone for the support you have given our teams in recent days.

“Clearly the unprecedented decision to close all schools in Scotland by close of play today (Friday) presents major logistical difficulties and inconvenience for families. We’re grateful to everyone for your patience and understanding as we respond to this situation.

“We have continued to work on arrangements which we intend to implement in the coming week. More details will be made available as soon as practically possible.

“Thanks to our teachers, supported by other staff, we are carrying out work to prepare online learning opportunities to maintain teaching as far as possible. Schools are in touch with parents and carers about this.

“We will be working with our private and voluntary nurseries and our out of school care partners to provide a holistic package of support and will be in touch with them very soon.”