FLINTSHIRE Council is set to operate school 'hubs' - a smaller number of primary, secondary and special schools - amid the coronavirus crisis.

The council says with less capacity available to operate all schools safely, under the hub model it can redeploy and rota teaching and support staff and re-prioritise its catering services.

Flintshire is this week operating an alternative provision for the children of assigned key workers across its network of schools, whereby all school are open to children of key workers.

But from Monday (March 30) this provision will be replaced by the ‘hub model’.

Under the hub model, the council will open and operate a smaller number of strategically located primary, secondary and special schools - in both urban and rural areas - to provide this service and meet demand from key workers.

Further details of which schools are to be hubs - and their operating arrangements and hours - will be released later this week.

The council says - with the closure of schools for all other pupils likely to be in place for a considerable time - the hub model is a more "sustainable" one.

A similar hub model is said to be being planned in other councils across Wales.

However, a support staff member at a Flintshire primary school, wishing to remain anonymous, expressed grave concerns over the move.

They said: "We've been told that the hubs will be made up of up to 10 schools - seemingly going against all the government guidance and what we've all heard about restricting social contact to as few people as possible.

"That could be up to 50 children or more suddenly in one place.

"What if a child contracts the virus and takes it home and infects their parent - a key worker - who could go to work and infect all their colleagues before realising they have it, that would be disastrous.

"I and plenty other staff members are very concerned and we hope Flintshire Council reverses its decision."

A spokesman for Flintshire Council said: "With parents taking due notice of the advice from government to only use this childcare offer if absolutely essential, we have already seen a reduction in pupil numbers attending throughout this first week.

"We are confident that we can meet the demand for places whilst making arrangements that adhere to Public Health Wales guidance on maintaining good hygiene and social distancing."