Working with schools for a safe academic year

Bright World Guardianships is working with our partner schools to ensure that students are safe and well-cared for during this difficult time. We are committed to working hard to ensure the safe arrival to school of our students after holiday times and throughout the academic year.

  • We continue to monitor the situation regularly and to follow the Schools COVID-19 operational guidance.
  • We are also part of Safe Schools UK who, in turn, refer to the the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) and follow their Covid-Safe Charter.
  • We follow guidance as set out by ISBA (Independent Schools Bursars’ Association.)
  • As Gold Standard Accredited Members of AEGIS, we also abide by the AEGIS Covid-19 Safe Charter.

Schools Covid-19 Operational Guidance UK Government

If a pupil in a boarding school shows symptoms, they should usually self-isolate in their residential setting so that their usual support can continue, others may then benefit from self-isolating in their family home. Students should self-isolate where they show symptoms/test positive.

This has been further confirmed as of 30th November 2021 by the UK Health and Security Agency (previously PHE) with the new arrival and quarantine rules and in response to the emergence of the new Omicron Variant who have summarised:

  • Pupils who are self-isolating as cases or contacts of Omicron cases should do so at their usual place of residence, namely, in the case of boarders, at the school.
  • Boarders aged under 18 (not “18 or under”) arriving from overseas may quarantine at the school.

*Covid – Guidance for Independent Schools: October 2021 ISBA *

In recent weeks, growing numbers of Covid cases amongst children and adults has caused significant disruption in schools. Inevitably, the arrival of half-term has focused concern around the suitability of care arrangements for pupils who have tested positive, particularly boarders who would ordinarily travel home or spend the break with an educational guardian or in a home stay.

In light of this predicament, it is instructive to return to key messages contained in government guidance.

· All schools are to follow the control measures set out in the Schools COVID-19 operational guidance which explains the actions school leaders should take to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus.
· If a pupil in a boarding school shows symptoms, they should usually self-isolate in their residential setting so that their usual support can continue, others may then benefit from self-isolating in their family home.

It follows that pupils who test positive at school and cannot self-isolate in their family home should remain where they are. This conclusion is supported by the Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, which states that if an individual develops symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. It is only permissible to leave home in very specific circumstances and individuals should not go to public places, use taxis or take public transport.

With half term now upon us, boarding schools may believe moving infected pupils to educational guardians or home-stay providers to be a better option. Notwithstanding the transmission risk this would create, schools remain accountable for the health and safety of their pupils and the Health and safety: responsibilities and duties for schools guidance is clear that control measures should not be adopted on the basis that they are easy to implement.

Other regulatory obligations applicable to boarding schools are also relevant here, including the requirement imposed by the Independent School Standards Regulations 2014 to have specific arrangements in place to safeguard and promote welfare of boarders; the requirement imposed by the National Minimum Standards for Boarding to have plans in place for foreseeable crises (a foreseeable crisis policy) and to provide suitable accommodation, including toilet and washing facilities, in order to cater for the needs of boarding pupils who are sick or injured. Those schools which are UKVI sponsors also have a general responsibility to ensure that suitable care arrangements are in place for any sponsored child student aged under 18 throughout their time in the UK.

Pre-arrival assistance

It is likely that some travel will need to be planned at the last minute as flights become available. Bright World pledges to be working with emergency assistance available 24/7 throughout the year to facilitate the immediate assistance required for parents arranging flights for arriving students.

Safe Travel arrangements

We recommend that parents chooses Bright World to organise airport transfers. Our drivers are experienced with picking up overseas students and are committed to abiding by strict social distancing and hygiene standards. They have all signed up to the Bright World Driver and Passenger Safety Policy

Airport Testing

Bright World has a strict policy not to allow our students to travel to the airport and take a PCR or Lamp test there prior to travel. This is because should they test positive at the airport, this poses a serious safeguarding situation for the child. Bright World does not have isolation facilities for students and it is illegal to arrange taxi travel for people who test positive. Unless overseas parents confirm the name of a family friend who would take over in this situation, or the school confirms they could arrange transport and take them back to isolate there, we insist that students take their test either at school or in a Bright World host family and await the result, only travelling to the airport once they have a negative test result.

Quarantine

Bright World can arrange suitable quarantine facilities in risk-assessed host families for their students in those cases where quarantining is needed and the school is unable to offer this service and facility. Bright World is unable to arrange quarantine for students arriving from countries on the red list and these students must quarantine at their school.

Accommodation during holiday times and should schools close

We understand and support the decision of schools to advise students possibly not to travel home during the holidays because of the need to quarantine on their return. In response to this, Bright World is supporting schools by providing host family and residential accommodation for students during the school year, including Half Term, Exeats and Christmas.


If a Bright World student presents with Covid-19 symptoms

Whilst at school

As per UK Government Guidance, international students should be isolated in school should they present with symptoms while they are there. We are liaising with schools to ensure that they will be isolating children who present with symptoms whilst in the boarding house. This complies with UK Government advice and that of the BSA and ISBA. It is not possible or permitted to place a symptomatic student into a host family. We refer to UK Government Guidance which we expect boarding schools to follow.

Our students are from overseas and, as such, they do not have a ‘family home’ as mentioned in the Government and IBSA guidance. This means they cannot isolate at their family home so should stay at school.

This includes staying in school for half terms, exeats and after the end of term for longer breaks to allow them to complete their isolation at school.

Bright World does not include isolation as part of its offering and suite of services and is not equipped to do so. We use host families for our accommodation who do not have the facilities to safely isolate students nor do they have medical facilities or qualifications. Bright World host families are not expected to take in students who have Covid-19. Moving students from their home (ie school) to a host family for isolation breaches guidance. Parents joining our programme should not expect Bright World to be able to isolate their child if they test positive whilst at school. This is made clear in our Terms and Conditions.

Whilst in a Bright World host family

If a child presents with symptoms while in a host family then the host family will take full care of the student and will arrange for appropriate medical assistance. they will follow the Bright World Coronavirus Contingency Plan for Host Families”“:https://www.manula.com/manuals/lana/bright-world-policies-manual/1/en/topic/coronavirus-contingency-plan-for-host-families

In summary, if a Bright World student develops symptoms after being placed in a host family, Bright World will instigate the proper testing and isolation procedures and will continue to take care of and accommodate the student until they are given the all-clear, or admitted to a medical facility.

-Students who are feeling worried or need extra support can contact their Bright World Buddy. Any student who does not know how to contact their Buddy can call the Bright World Office (01273 835745) or Out of Hours Line (01273 836060).

In the event of a school closure:

Bright World’s policy is that, in the event of a prolonged school closure, healthy students must ultimately aim to either:

a) return home
b) be looked after by their parents
c) be looked after by another responsible adult (family friend/relative 25 years+)

Bright World will facilitate the school closure and the student’s forward planning by providing host family accommodation for healthy students, while they make their alternative arrangements. Should alternative arrangements not be possible then Bright World will continue to care for the student provided sufficient funds are provided to pay for host family or residential accommodation.

If there is a school closure and Bright World students at the affected school are displaying symptoms and/or awaiting test results for Covid-19, we are unable to accommodate these students in host families, due to the risk to the host family and wider communities. Any such student will need to remain in isolation within the school’s isolation provision, until they receive the all-clear, or are admitted to a medical facility. If a student receives a negative test result, we will then accommodate them as per above, pending their return home or being cared for by family or friends.

If all or part of a school is closing and any of our students who are healthy and non-symptomatic are required to leave and self-isolate due to contact with a possible/positive case of Covid-19, we will be able to accommodate these students in our residential quarantine facility, or within carefully risk-assessed host families, where students can isolate away from other family members.

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