This Charter serves to advise schools and overseas parents on the response from AEGIS and our member guardianship organisations to the Covid-19 pandemic. Guardianship organisations which have adopted the AEGIS Covid-19 Safe Charter confirm that they will comply with government and Public Health guidance whilst supporting international students in the UK.
Choosing an AEGIS accredited guardian
We recommend that overseas parents familiarise themselves with the rigorous inspection process undertaken by AEGIS guardianship organisations and choose an AEGIS accredited guardian. AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations are professional, fully insured, trained in safeguarding and offer 24/7 emergency assistance.
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 have been pro-active in assisting schools, students and parents.
AEGIS guardians’ commitment to supporting international students
Without exception, AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations are committed to assisting schools and parents in the safe return of students and continued support of students.
Coordination of flights to the UK
It is likely that some travel arrangements will need to be planned at the last minute as flights become available. AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations support parents with travel arrangements and provide assistance on arrival 24/7.
The guardian will ensure that the student or parent completes the online Passenger Locator Form via the link below 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 10 days.
Guardians will ensure students also travel with the standard Permission to Travel Letter, as per Appendix 11 of the AEGIS Inspection Handbook & Quality Standards.
People must self-isolate for 10 days after arriving in the UK, even if they have tested negative. On arrival, a completed passenger locator form and proof of a negative coronavirus test is required: https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control
Test to Release (available in England only)
Under the Test to Release scheme a student can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test. If the result is negative, quarantine can be stopped early. The test cannot be taken until 5 full days after arrival in England. For further details: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-test-to-release-for-international-travel
AEGIS guardians will follow government guidelines on self-isolation and ensure that parents and students understand the requirements:
How to Self Isolate When You Travel to the UK
Students are able to quarantine at their boarding school. Guardians are able to provide quarantine in homestays for children travelling from non-Red List countries.
The Test to Release scheme cannot be used by students travelling from red list countries.
Boarders returning from non-Red List countries are able to quarantine in their boarding schools rather than in managed hotel facilities.
Northern Ireland https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-international-travel-advice
Note that students travelling from or through red list countries should never quarantine with students travelling from non-red list countries.
It is confirmed that international students do have residence rights and are therefore able to enter the UK from countries on the Red List: British and Irish Nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK are able to enter the UK if they have been in or transited through a ‘red list’ country in the last 10 days. Residence rights includes those with an entry clearance/visa that grants such leave e.g. students, holders of existing leave to enter or remain e.g. those students with biometric residence permits, and holders of EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) leave.
Please note that unaccompanied stays in hotels are not advised, we refer you to the UKVI Student Visa Sponsor Guidance:
The self-isolation requirements in place for Child Students must meet the safeguarding requirements as stipulated in Appendix Child Student to ensure suitable care arrangements are in place for a Child Student’s care and reception within the UK. For Child Students who are 16 or 17 years old, they are able to live independently, so if the parent consents for the Child Student to be living independently within the UK for the self-isolation period (as per the consent requirements in CS. 9) before moving to the full accommodation this would be acceptable, provided the sponsor maintained their sponsorship duties in regard to the Child Student’s care and reception within the UK.
For Child Students below 16 years old, it is not acceptable for a Child Student to be placed in a hotel for the self-isolation period, this is because the care requirements in place for a Child Student under 16 must always be in accordance with one of the types of care stated in the Child Student rules:-
• Boarding at a residential boarding school
• Living in a Private Foster Care arrangement
• Living with a close relative who holds settled status within the UK (ILTR)
• Living with a Parent of a Child Student (if the Child Student is under 12)
Safe travel arrangements in the UK
We recommend that parents choose an AEGIS accredited guardianship organisation to organise airport transfers with drivers who are screened and experienced in transporting international students. They also adhere to 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.
– The transport to the school is a direct route without detours.
– 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 is made available within the transport. The packets etc will need sanitising in advance.
– The student is encouraged to contact home shortly after arrival in the country and when arriving at school.
– They 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.
Students returning to their home countries
Several countries have banned or limited UK travel meaning some students will be unable to return to their home country. For individual country guidance please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
We draw your attention in particular to Hong Kong. Many students from Hong Kong have begun to return to school in the UK. Currently the guidance remains that travellers who have visited the UK for more than two hours within the past 21 days will be denied entry to Hong Kong. This includes those transiting the UK if they disembark the aircraft.
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office provided the information below, following updated guidance issued 27 February 2021:
“Please note that restrictions for boarding flights from extremely high risk places including UK to Hong Kong are maintained according to the latest review by HKSARG. Please see the link:
The Government will continue to monitor closely the situation, including the developments of the epidemic situation both globally and locally and will adjust the requirements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from high-risk places when necessary. Please keep monitoring the websites www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/high-risk-places.html or https://www.hketolondon.gov.hk/info-uk.php for future updates.
Immigration Department’s 24-hour hotline +852 1868, which provides assistance to HK residents overseas.”
If boarding students display COVID-19 symptoms whilst at school
AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations follow Public Health and government guidance. Public Health and the Department for Education advise that Covid positive or symptomatic international students should self-isolate where they show symptoms/test positive and should not be moving to different locations.
Host families and educational guardians are therefore not in a position to take over the care of students who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 at boarding school. Schools also follow Public Health advice and that of the Safe Schools UK and BSA Charters and provide isolation on school premises.
In the event of school closure
Where schools are unable to keep their boarding houses open, AEGIS guardians will provide homestay accommodation for healthy students.
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 community. 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 homestay 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.
Current Guidance for Schools
Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-schools-colleges-and-universities
Hosting of international students FAQs
Please note that Public Health England has advised carrying out an individual risk assessment and discussion with homestays regarding any hosting arrangements. Hosting arrangements would need to be compliant with any current local guidance for households which might vary depending on local incidence levels. Currently international students are classed as part of the household bubble.
Can guardians arrange homestay accommodation for healthy students during school holidays?
Unless the student was a confirmed case or contact of a confirmed case self-isolating or quarantining following travel from a country where this is required, there is no reason why they should not go to their homestay. If a member of the homestay is self-isolating as a Covid-positive case or contact then this hosting would not be advised.
What happens if a student displays symptoms whilst at a homestay 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 government guidelines on self-isolation:
And would liaise closely with the guardianship organisation who would keep the school and overseas parents fully informed of the situation.
Mixing of households – how does this affect hosting of international students?
International students are considered part of the family bubble that is hosting them.
If possible the children being hosted should be from the same school bubble.
Can a healthy international boarding student stay with a homestay during national lockdown?
International boarders are able to stay with allocated homestays just as British boarders are able to return home to stay with their families.
If an area goes into local lockdown whilst a student is staying with a homestay family during a school holiday, would they be able to return to boarding school during the lockdown period?
Yes, they would be able to return to school.
Can guardians provide long term accommodation in homestays for students while schools are closed?
Yes guardians are able to provide long stay accommodation with host families.
Where a hosting arrangement for a student under the age of 16 lasts for 28 consecutive days or longer, AEGIS guardians are aware that this is classed as a private fostering arrangement and subject to local authority checks. AEGIS guardians understand that they have a duty to report the hosting arrangement to the local authority as soon as they become aware that the arrangement will meet the private fostering threshold. Further guidance on Private Fostering can be found here: Private Fostering
For further queries please contact:
DfE coronavirus helpline
Telephone: 0800 046 8687
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
AEGIS member guardians following the AEGIS COVID-19 Safe Charter will be displaying the safe logo: