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AEGIS Covid-19 Safe Charter

By admin December 15, 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 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-guidance-preparing-start-new-school-term-august-2020-version-2/

https://www.gov.scot/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-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/education-coronavirus

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.
Passengers arriving into the UK from certain countries are required to self-isolate. If they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 10 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:

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.
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 10 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 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.

Quarantine/ self-isolation

As mentioned previously, passengers arriving into the UK from certain countries are required to self-isolate. If they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 10 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:

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

Boarding schools that are able to provide quarantine will be following guidelines:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-boarding-schools-with-international-students/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-residential-educational-settings-with-international-students-under-the-age-of-18.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test to Release for international travel

The Test to Release for International Travel scheme, introduced from 15 December 2020, is for people who need to self-isolate on arrival in England.
Under the scheme you can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test. If the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating.
The earliest you can take the test is 5 full days after you left a place not on the travel corridor list.
The scheme is voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only.
If you do not want to opt into the Test to Release scheme, you will need to self-isolate until 10 full days have passed since were last in a place not on the travel corridors list. Further details about the Test to Release Scheme can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-test-to-release-for-international-travel

Where schools are unable to assist with self-isolation on arrival for those travelling from affected countries, AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations are able to assist with residential facilities and 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 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

Students returning to their home countries

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides guidance on COVID and non-COVID risks overseas. The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to many countries and territories on the basis of COVID risks. You should check the travel advice for your destination.

Travel disruption is possible worldwide. Other countries may bring in new measures with little notice such as border closures, movement restrictions or quarantine rules. Travellers should be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.

For students returning to their home country, please check the entry requirements for the home country:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Chinahttps://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

Travel to China is subject to entry restrictions

  • You will need a valid visa to enter China. Chinese Visa Application Centres are now open.
  • On 4 November the Chinese Embassy in the UK announced the temporary suspension of entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in the UK holding Chinese visas or residence permits. Entry by holders of diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas would not be affected. Foreign nationals visiting China for emergencies can still apply for visas at Chinese Embassies or Consulates and entry by non-Chinese nationals in the UK with visas issued after 3 November 2020 will not be affected.
  • You will need to submit a Health Declaration Form before you travel.
  • The FCDO has been informed by the Chinese Embassy that from 7 November, in addition to a negative ‘nucleic acid’ test for COVID-19, you must also provide evidence of having taken an ‘IgM’ antibody test. From 7 November, both the test for COVID-19 and the antibody test must be taken no more than 48 hours before you travel. The Chinese Embassy has not yet made an official announcement and rules may be subject to change
  • From 8 December, reports of both your nucleic acid (COVID-19) and IgM (antibody) tests must come from the same service provider. This does not mean the provider must carry out both tests, but that the provider must guarantee both test reports. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
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:

http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/visa/notice/t1807646.htm

Hong Konghttps://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/hong-kong
  • 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 your own expense.
  • Transit services at Hong Kong International Airport has resumed for passengers who can be checked through from port of origin to final destination

See Entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel.

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. 
Further information is available here:

https://www.hketolondon.gov.hk/news/traveltohkfromuk2020.htm

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 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 school. 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.

Local Restrictions

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
Until Thursday 5 November, the relevant Local Covid Alert Level measures will continue to apply. From Thursday the national restrictions replace the local restrictions. No new areas will move into the Very High restrictions between now and Thursday.
The new measures will apply nationally for four weeks up to Wednesday 2 December: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november
Guidance for schools and guardians regarding national lockdown can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020 and we would draw your attention to the section relating to boarding schools in particular:
Residential providers and boarding schools
Residential providers should support students to reduce travel between home and educational accommodation unless absolutely necessary. Where students normally travel between their boarding school and home during term time for the purpose of education, this is allowed.”

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

Wales: https://gov.wales/local-lockdown

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 government guidelines on self-isolation:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
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.

Can a healthy international boarding student stay with a homestay during national lockdown, e.g. for exeat?

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? 

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.
Useful links:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#what-is-an-out-of-school-setting

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: