Thieves stole £20,000 worth of laptops and iPads from a primary school which was open to care for 20 key workers children during the coronavirus outbreak.

The crooks also caused “widespread damage” in every classroom and of Latton Green Primary Academy in Harlow, making it impossible for staff and children to use the next day.

Essex Police are investigating the break in and are calling for any witnesses of the incident on Thursday evening to come forward.

Latton Green Primary, part of the NET Academies Trust, was supported by another NET academy school, Longwood Primary Academy, when it stepped in to open and provide care and education for the children.

Sinead McCarthy, Head of School at Latton Green Primary, said: ''It is almost unimaginable that someone could do this to a school at any time – let alone at a time when so many people are doing so much to support the national effort. Our staff have been exceptional and so we are all devastated.

“But the support from one of the other schools in NET Academies Trust meant that our pupil were able to attend school – children who needed to be in school to be kept safe and well cared for, and children whose parents needed to go to work so they could help others.”

The government has ordered that all schools in England must be closed to slow the spread of Covid-19, except for pupils classed as “vulnerable” and children of key workers.

Jo Coton, Chief Executive of NET Academies Trust, added: “I have been so proud of all out staff throughout this period – but never more so than now. The way that everyone rallied round was extraordinary.”

Essex Police are appealing for information following the burglary.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “We were called after an alarm was set off at the school on Thursday, March 26 at around 7.45pm.

“A messy search had been conducted and several tablet devices had been taken.

“If you saw anything, have any CCTV, or have any other information please call us on 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/46600/20 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

NET Academies will remain open throughout the Easter holidays to support key worker families.

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