SCHOOLS in Greater Manchester should open with a "skeleton staff" for the children of those working in emergency services or social care amid the coronavirus outbreak.

That is according to the region’s newly-formed COVID-19 committee, which also wants to support pupils on free school meals (FSM) and those who would otherwise have to stay with elderly relatives.

The government has been urged to consider the proposals ahead of an "imminent decision" on school closures in England.

It follows the move by Welsh and Scottish governments to close all schools from this weekend onwards.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We understand the government is on the verge of making a decision and we would support the decision that’s been taken in Wales and Scotland.

“But we would also support the idea of schools maintaining a skeleton staff to run schools from next week for students who are the sons and daughters of staff working in the police, NHS and other crucial public services, because that is clealry an issue.”

Should also remain open for those "with no other choice" than to be with grandparents as "that is something we can’t advise at the moment", according to Mr Burnham.

People over the age of 70 will soon be asked to self-isolate at home for up to four months to protect themselves from coronavirus.

Mr Burnham added: “We also believe that schools should be available for those on FSM who might not be able to have access to a meal if school is closed.

“This is something that should be kept over the coming weeks even through the Easter period.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said there are "plans ready to go" to help parents of children who will lose their free meals if schools close.