AEGIS has prepared this statement which supercedes the guidance of 16th March 2020. This statement 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.
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 latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all but essential international travel for people residing in the UK. For further details regarding specific countries please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
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 is poised to impose a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals from 8th June. This rule will be reviewed every three weeks. We will update this statement when final guidance is given.
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 system 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.
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.
Where schools are unable to assist with quarantine, AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations are ready to assist with residential facillities and, in some exceptional cases, in 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.
If boarding students display COVID-19 symptoms whilst at school
AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations follow Public Health England advice and are therefore not permitted to move a symptomatic student from their household unit. 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.
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 oout 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.