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AEGIS Covid-19 Safe Charter

By admin July 1, 2020

This Charter serves to advise schools and overseas parents on the response from AEGIS and our member guardianship organisations relating to the current Covid-19 crisis. This relates to support services being offered to international students enrolled at UK boarding schools and who are under the guardianship of our members.

Guardianship organisations which have adopted the AEGIS Covid-19 Safe Charter confirm that they will comply with government and Public Health England guidance and support the return of international students to the UK.

We continue to monitor the situation regularly and to follow the advice of Public Health England (PHE)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings

Scottish Government & Health Protection Scotland:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-re-opening-schools-guide/pages/related-guidance/

Public Health Wales:

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/guidance-for-schools-advice-for-parents-or-carers/

https://gov.wales/keep-education-safe-guidance-learning-over-summer-term

We also follow advice and are part of Safe Schools UK who, in turn, refer to the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) and follow their Covid-Safe Charter.
The FCO updated its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel, exempting destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exempt-from-advice-against-all-but-essential-international-travel
AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations are still offering accommodation in host families for students who remain in the UK and who have not been able to travel home. AEGIS guardians are offering assistance to parents and students who are not under their care if they are in a position to do so.
The UK government imposed a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals from 8th June. This rule will be reviewed every three weeks. We will update this statement as guidance changes. 
From 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from certain countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into the UK. The list of exempt countries and further details can be found here related:

England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-health-checks-at-borders/pages/exemptions/

Wales: https://gov.wales/exemptions-self-isolation-coronavirus-covid-19-html

N Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-advice

Choosing an AEGIS Accredited Guardian

The group of guardianship organisations who are accredited by AEGIS discuss matters of policy regularly. We aim to present a united approach to the assistance we can offer during the COVID-19 crisis. We recommend that overseas parents familiarise themselves with the rigorous inspection process undertaken by AEGIS guardianship organisations. We recommend that parents choose an AEGIS accredited guardian whose processes and practices have been fully inspected by trained and independent inspectors.  
AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations have been praised by schools, agents and parents for their hard work and swift action during the COVID-19 crisis. They were pro-active in assisting schools, students and parents when students had to remain in the UK for half-term and then subsequently had to leave school suddenly in March. 
We recommend that schools and agents make overseas parents aware of our accreditation process when they are choosing a guardianship organisation. AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations are professionally structured organisations which are fully insured, often trained in Mental Health and always in Child Protection, offering 24/7 emergency assistance throughout the academic year. 

AEGIS guardians’ commitment to helping students return safely to UK boarding schools

Without exception, our guardianship organisation members are committed to assisting schools and parents in the safe return of students in the Autumn 2020. 

Coordination of Flights and UK Travel 

It is likely that some travel will need to be planned at the last minute as flights become available. AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations pledge to be working with emergency assistance available 24/7 throughout the summer break to facilitate the immediate assistance required for parents arranging flights for arriving students. 
The guardian will ensure that the student or parent completes the relevant online form below before arrival in the UK. The form cannot be submitted until 48 hours before arrival in the UK. The student will need to carry a copy of the completed form with them and the form will be required on arrival at the UK border, either a printed version, or a copy on a mobile phone. The government will use this information to make contact if the student or someone who travelled with the student develops COVID-19 symptoms, and to check that the student is self-isolating for the first 14 days.
https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk
Guardians will ensure students also travel with the standard Permission to Travel Letter, as per Appendix 11 of the AEGIS Inspection Handbook & Quality Standards.

Safe Travel Arrangements

We recommend that parents choose an AEGIS accredited guardianship organisation to organise airport transfers with drivers who are experienced with picking up overseas students and who are committed to abiding by strict social distancing and hygiene standards. 
The guardian is to ensure that there is a named, safe adult to meet the child and comply with any social distancing guidelines at that time and follow strict hygiene procedures. The named person will have a face covering and sanitiser hand wash. A spare should also be carried for the child being collected whilst at the airport or point of entry and whilst in the transport.
Guardians should ensure that the transport to the school is a direct route without detours.
The guardian should ensure that the transport has enough sanitiser, wipes and spare face coverings. Should there be any toilet stops relevant guidelines must be followed.
A welcome pack with snacks and drinks should be made available within the transport. The packets etc will need sanitising in advance.
The guardian will encourage the pupil to contact home shortly after arrival in the country and when arriving at school.
The guardian should keep in contact regularly with the child and reinforce that they are there to listen to the child’s voice and any concerns that they have.

Quarantine Facilities 

As mentioned previously, from 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from certain countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England. The list of exempt countries and further details can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors
Where schools are unable to assist with 14 day quarantine for those travelling from other countries, AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations are ready to assist with residential facilities and, in some exceptional cases, host families who are prepared and equipped to offer this service. The addresses offered by an AEGIS accredited guardian will satisfy the border officials on arrival in the UK. 
The list of guardians offering quarantine can be found here: https://aegisuk.net/quarantine-provision-by-aegis-guardians/
AEGIS guardians will follow government guidelines on 14 day self-isolation and ensure that parents and students understand the requirements:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk

If boarding students display COVID-19 symptoms whilst at school

AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations follow Public Health England and government guidance:
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on isolation for residential educational settings

Self-isolation

Most children or young persons, pupils and students in children’s social care, residential special schools and colleges and boarding schools will benefit more from self-isolating at their setting so that their usual support can continue. This could include when:

  • there is no suitable family home to return to
  • international students with no family resident in the UK
  • the health services they need cannot be supplied at home
  • the pupil or student would otherwise be significantly disadvantaged by the change

Boarding schools and mainstream FE college residential provision for students under the age of 18

If a pupil or student in a boarding school or FE residential college shows symptoms of coronavirus, the setting should ensure that pupils and students self-isolate and are looked after by residential staff.

Where this is not possible, and non-residential staff need to leave and enter the residential facility, the school or the manager of the accommodation should operate a staff rota that minimises the risk of transmission by keeping the same staff together with the same pupils as far as that is possible.

Settings will need to ensure that the arrangements for oversight of pupils and students in isolation protects the safety and welfare of all children and staff.

You will need to put in place arrangements to bring meals and other essential commodities to the areas where self-isolation is occurring.”

Host families are not in a position to take over the care of students with suspected COVID-19. Schools also follow Public Health England advice and that of the Safe Schools UK and BSA Charters and provide isolation on school premises for such students.

If students display symptoms whilst at a host family provided by an AEGIS accredited guardianship organisation 

Host families sign up to a COVID-19 Charter and Policy when taking in students and would continue to care for students who display symptoms whilst at their home. They would follow medical advice and would liaise closely with the guardianship organisation who will keep the school and overseas parents fully informed of the situation. 

School holidays 

Guardianship organisations will work closely with schools to offer clear guidance to students and their parents on the best course of action for the October half term and Christmas holidays 2020. If students remain in the UK, and are not able to stay at school, guardianship organisations will be able to assist with accommodation.

In the event of a school closure 

In the event of a prolonged school closure, AEGIS guardianship organisations would continue to follow the advice of the Department for Education and Public Health England. The procedure for guardianship organisations is set out below.

Healthy students must ultimately and as soon as is practicable either:

a) return home

b) be looked after by their parents

c) be looked after by another responsible adult (family friend/relative 25 years+)

Guardians will support the school with the student’s forward planning, providing they have not been to, come from or had contact with anyone from an affected area, by providing host family accommodation for healthy students, while they make alternative accommodation arrangements. This may be with their regular long term host family or with their short term family. Provision of host family has extended for several months so far this year when schools closed in March as flights were not available and some students are still in the UK with host families to this day. 
If there is a school closure and students at the affected school are displaying symptoms and/or awaiting test results for COVID-19, guardians 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 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, guardians will then accommodate them as stated above.
If a student develops symptoms after being placed in a host family and the school is closed, the guardian will instigate the proper testing and isolation procedures and accommodate the student until they are given the all-clear, or admitted to a medical facility.
If a student develops symptoms during a residential course, the responsibility for the care of the student will remain with the course provider.

AEGIS member guardians following the AEGIS COVID-19 Safe Charter will be displaying the safe logo: