Duke and Duchess of Cambridge surprise pupils with virtual school visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have surprised children of key workers in Lancashire with a virtual school visit.

From their home in Norfolk, William and Kate dialled into Casterton Primary Academy in Burnley on a video call.

They wanted to thank the teachers who have been keeping the school open for children who need it, as well as speak to some of the pupils whose parents are still having to work in places like Burnley Hospital nearby.

The couple, who seemed incredibly relaxed, introduced themselves to the children as Catherine and William.

On the video call you also see them laughing and joking with the teachers and schoolchildren, who were all dressed in bunny ears for their Easter activities.

Kate joked, “We should have our bunny ears on”, while also teasing Prince William for eating all the chocolate in the house as the teachers wished them a Happy Easter.

But the duke and duchess also spoke at length to the teachers about the challenges they’re facing as a result of the restrictions put in place due to COVID-19.

Speaking to school staff, the duchess said: “Well done, honestly to you and everyone who’s in during this time.

“It must be such a relief for all the parents who are key workers to know that the normality is there for their children – they’ve got the structure and they’ve got a safe place for them to be, so really really well done to all of you.”

Prince William said: “We just want to say a huge thank you to you guys and well done in keeping it all going. Please pass on many messages of support for all the staff and all the volunteers – they’re doing a great job.”

The school has remained open as a hub for the five academies, and even though it’s the Easter holidays, it is still open to children of key workers and those who are vulnerable.

Several children showed the couple pictures they had drawn of their parents and explained why they were proud of them.

Anita Ghidotti, chief executive of the Pendle Education Trust, of which the school is part of, said: “This is a really exciting thing to happen for any school, at any time, but the situation we’re in and with all the bad news stories we’re looking for any positives we can find.

“This was absolutely a positive experience for everyone involved, for the staff as well as the children, and they were beaming as they came out the children, proud of themselves and very excited.”

Outside of school, teachers have also been helping with those who usually have free school meals and making sure children are still being supported emotionally through mental health provision.

Leala Porter, from the children’s charity Place2be, of which Kate is Patron, said: “The anxieties haven’t been directly about the coronavirus itself because there’s been so much information that’s being given out, that’s at a child friendly level for them to access and understand it.

“It’s been more around the having to go to three shops or five shops because they couldn’t get bread, and not being able to go out to the shops with their mum maybe and those things that are the normal things in their lives.

She added: “Not being able to see grandparents, especially the younger ones, again having an understanding of that. And coming back to the routine and them not having a routine, that really has been the sense of the anxiety.”

This virtual school visit was a first for the royal family, as they have all been forced to carry out engagements and work in different ways due to coronavirus.

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