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 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):
Scottish Government & Health Protection Scotland:
Public Health Wales:
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 UK government imposed a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals from 8th June. This rule will be reviewed regularly.
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:
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.
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.
Coordination of flights to the UK
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 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 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 14 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.
Safe travel arrangements in the UK
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.
– 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.
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:
Boarding schools that are able to provide quarantine will be following guidelines:
Where schools are unable to assist with 14 day quarantine for those travelling from other countries, AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations have been able to assist with residential facilities and, in some exceptional cases, homestays 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.
AEGIS guardians will follow government guidelines on 14 day self-isolation and ensure that parents and students understand the requirements:
Students returning to their home countries
For students returning to their home country, please check the entry requirements for the home country:
- Students will need a valid visa to enter China. Chinese Visa Application Centres are now open.
- Students will need to submit a Health Declaration Form before they travel.
- From 7 September, alongside the form, students must provide evidence of a negative test for COVID-19 taken no more than 3 days before travel. The NHS testing service should not be used to obtain a test in order to facilitate travel to another country. Private tests should be arranged.
The Chinese embassy advises that it does not designate specific institutes to carry out the tests. Passengers can choose the hospital or institute in the UK to take the test according to his or her situation.
Please read the following link:
- Travellers from overseas countries/territories, who are not Hong Kong residents, will be denied entry
- If you’re eligible to enter Hong Kong, all travellers are required to take a mandatory medical coronavirus test and a compulsory quarantine
- Travellers from the UK and other specified high risk places, will need to provide evidence of a negative test result for COVID-19 taken no more than 72 hours prior to their departure, and quarantine in a hotel for 14 days on arrival at their own expense. The NHS testing service should not be used to obtain a test in order to facilitate travel to another country. Private tests should be arranged.
- Transit services at Hong Kong International Airport has resumed for passengers who can be checked through from port of origin to final destination
Advice from the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office is to remind Hong Kong students returning to Hong Kong to follow all guidelines found on Hong Kong’s coronavirus website:
https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/high-risk-places.html, to ensure all required documentation such as test result certificate, proof of the lab/clinic, hotel booking etc is obtained in advance before boarding planes.
If boarding students display COVID-19 symptoms whilst at school
AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations follow Public Health England and government guidance:
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.
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 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 homestay or with their short term family.
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 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.
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 students are still classed as part of the household bubble.
England: On 12 October 2020 a three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England was introduced. For advice on local restrictions please use the postcode checker: https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions
Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you
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 case or contact then this hosting would obviously also not be advised.
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 for healthy students.
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 would liaise closely with the guardianship organisation who would keep the school and overseas parents fully informed of the situation.
If a healthy international boarder leaves the school at half term or exeat and goes to stay with a homestay, does social distancing need to take place within the family home?
Social distancing would not be required within the home.
Mixing of households and the rule of six – how does this affect hosting of international students?
International students are considered part of the family bubble that is hosting them, therefore group size is not limited.
If possible the children being hosted should be from the same school bubble.
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?
There would not be a restriction on movement if they are to attend school.
If student is at school in a high risk area, can they still stay with a homestay or must they stay at boarding school?
They would still be able to stay with the homestay.
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: