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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) guidance update as of 23.06.2020
23rd June 2020

This week’s Covid-19 communication covers:

  1. New update as of 22.06.20
  2. Links to previous advice.

As ever the update is issued by BSA in conjunction with our partners BAISIS and ISC. BSA reminds all schools that it is not a medical, statutory or legal authority and any advice is given on that basis.


A.1: What has changed
The number of worldwide infections is now close to 9 million, with WHO reporting the largest daily increase in reported infections so far during the pandemic over the weekend.   The number of reported deaths has now risen to 461,765, of which over 400,000 have been in Europe or the Americas.  The situation in South America is deteriorating fast.  The situation in the Middle-East, South Africa, Russia and the Indian subcontinent remains challenging, as it does in Indonesia and the Philippines.  In Europe, the UK remains the only country other than Russia to report over 1,000 daily infections and to average over 100 daily deaths .  However this is the first week for many weeks that there have been fewer than 1,000 reported deaths in the previous week, with 949 in the seven days from Monday to Sunday.

In England, primary schools were able to welcome back additional pupils from last week, and some prep schools have taken the opportunity to welcome back Year 8 leavers.  A very successful international forum was held last week, with schools sharing their stories and challenges from across the world.  BSA sends best wishes to all those member schools who have boarders back, or have continued to look after them during the pandemic, and to all members who are making plans for reopening soon.

A.2: COVID-Safe Charter
Version two of the BSA COVID-SAFE CHARTER, with some minor clarifications, was issued last week.  Please see last week’s guidance for a full explanation of the minor changes. Over 150 schools from all parts of the UK, and from a number of other countries have now made us aware that they have signed up to the Charter, either through direct emails or social media posts.  BSA International Director, Caroline Nixon, has taken part in a number of online events with international parents and agents to reassure them about the steps schools are taking to make themselves safe, which have been well attended and very successful.  In order to allow every school sufficient time about whether to sign up to the Charter or not, BSA has not yet published a list of schools which have adopted it, but will be doing so on Monday, June 29.  DO please let us know if you wish your school to be added to the list at bsa@boarding.org.uk. Schools wishing to adopt it may use the logo to accompany the Charter, and BSA advocates using the logo as a button which is linked to the full document. 

BSA has also produced a template letter to which schools may add their own logo and details as appropriate, which international pupils can use as a way of demonstrating that they are travelling back to a BSA member school. 

Translations into Chinese, Russian and German have already been commissioned and are available on the BSA website

A.3: Return to school: UK
In the last few days the Government has clarified that they expect there to be a return to school for all children in England in September. Discussions continue with DfE to ensure schools have sufficient information to make informed decisions about the scope and nature of the return to school. It is anticipated that the next ten days will be crucial, with a review of social distancing, an anticipated relaxation of rules around the hospitality sector and potential changes to the quarantine arrangements.  Colleagues in England should be aware that the recently published version of Keeping Children Safe in Education for September 2020 comments on, and has links to, Government Covid 19 documentation. 

On the key issue of reopening for September Lady Berridge, with whom BSA has regular conversations, authorised BSA to say that details on this would be released ‘before the end of the summer term’ alongside the results of the review into 2m social distancing. She said the government was working with other departments such as the Home Office and Department for International Trade to clarify arrangements as soon as possible, recognised the strain ‘not knowing’ was putting on schools and families, and thanked the boarding sector for its patience.

In NORTHERN IRELAND pupils in primary seven, and in the key GCSE and A Level years will return to school on Monday, August 17, with other groups to follow in September.  Social distancing rules have been changed to 1m, which will be helpful for schools in their planning. The full guidance is available here.

Although the return date in Wales is next Monday June 29, today’s BSA Wales Forum meeting confirmed that BSA most if not all member schools in the principality do not anticipate reopening before the summer. BSA continues to work closely with WISC to advise member schools in Wales, and both were grateful to Carol Mooney from the Welsh Government Department of Education for attending the online meeting and listening to the concerns of the sector.  The operational guidance was published ten days ago.  However colleagues in Wales must not assume that there will be a similar relaxation to social distancing in Wales as there has been in Northern Ireland and potentially England, especially as there has been a spike in infections in part of the country.

As mentioned previously, the return in SCOTLAND will be a “safe, phased opening” from 11 August. In her statement to Parliament last week the First Minister announced the staged progression to Phase 2 of the lockdown exit strategy.  As part of that, she indicated that, as of 29 June, outdoor playgrounds and sports courts could re-open. While there is a distinction between organised, registered outdoor education, and the informal use of facilities for training, we are seeking confirmation from the Government that school courts etc. can be used, in suitably distanced ways.

ISBA has shared with BSA some guidance on space planning for schools once boarding resumes, which comes from the firm of architects Squires and Brown. The guidance is available on the Covid 19 page of the BSA website.

ISBA has also shared details of a paper on Employer-Provided Accommodation tax changes, which is available on their website, as is a video on the subject. (A member log-in is required).

BSA reminds all UK member schools not to make any firm arrangements until the guidance for the specific region of the UK has been clarified. 

Visa centres around the world are beginning to reopen. The Home Office has also issued the following documents:

·         GUIDANCE FOR SPONSORS

·         GUIDANCE FOR SHORT TERM RESIDENTS AND THOSE WITH VISAS

·         GUIDANCE FOR VISA CUSTOMERS OUTSIDE THE UK.

Members are encouraged to contact local MPs regarding the effect COVID-19 will have on our international student community. Members are welcome to personalise the attached template letter to reflect their circumstances and any existing relationship they have with their MPs. Any school which has questions about the letter, or would like a briefing in advance of a meeting with their MP, please contact matthew.dent@isc.co.uk.

Royal SpringBoard is preparing guidance for the return of vulnerable pupils in the Autumn term. As you coordinate your re-opening plans, please liaise with the Royal SpringBoard team on issues to consider for pupils that face particular vulnerabilities.If you are interested in contributing to this guidance or to offer insights on the questions being considered by your school in relation to planning for the return of vulnerable pupils please contact the Royal SpringBoard team via ceo@royalspringboard.org.uk  

A.4: UK Quarantine
The first review of the quarantine arrangements for the UK is due soon, and BSA advises that where possible schools should resist making any concrete plans until the detail of that review is complete.   BSA (supported by ISC) has yet to receive a reply to questions about the specific requirements for quarantine of pupils travelling to member schools in the UK.  BSA last week advised that the current guidance indicates that there will be no opportunity for those being quarantined to mix in any normal way even with members of their own “household” and schools must bear this in mind when making any plans.  However it is also clear that any pupils who have travelled together can be accommodated together for quarantine.

BSA is aware that some schools are planning to offer to run quarantine facilities themselves, either on site or through guardians etc, and would advise careful scrutiny of the guidance before making any commitment. Schools must also ensure that parents and pupils are aware of what the arrangements will be before committing to a return to the UK or booking any flights.

A.5: International update
Since the last international update three weeks ago, there have been many changes to the worldwide focus of the virus response. In Europe lockdown continues to be eased by many countries, despite small spikes in infection in particular locations, such as in Germany.  Discussions are being held relating to easing travel across borders throughout the EU and beyond, although the situation varies considerably, with countries such as Ireland and Switzerland now reporting only a handful of cases every day, whereas others, including France, Italy, Spain and the UK still reporting hundreds, and Russia several thousand.

In South-East and East Asia and in Australasia  the situation remains largely stable, despite obvious concern about a sudden flurry of cases in Beijing, and the aforementioned issues in Philippines and Indonesia.  In some countries many areas of society are beginning to reopen.  Those countries with the most BSA members, and which send the most pupils to the UK, these being China, Hong Kong SAR, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia reported fewer than 100 combined daily cases in the latest WHO situation report.  However, Singapore itself reported 218, showing that the situation remains delicately poised. 

The situation in India has deteriorated further with more than  9,000 deaths in the last three weeks, and the number of daily cases having doubled.  There are similar regional challenges in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and many countries of the Middle East.  Qatar, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have all reported over 1,000 daily cases, and UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain several hundred.

Africa has so far been less severely affected than many other regions, representing less than 3% of the worldwide cases, although there is concern over a rise in infections in West Africa, with Nigeria now the worst affected country outside South Africa, but with many neighbouring countries also reporting a rise.  Numbers in the East are better, but Kenya and Ethiopia in particular remain very vigilant.

The area of greatest concern remains the Americas, with over 2 million reported cases now in USA and over 1 million in Brazil.   North, South and Central America now account for almost two-thirds of daily reported cases and will soon have seen half the worldwide deaths. There are also significant outbreaks in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia and also Argentina which, with some other countries in South America, is approaching the middle of winter.

Colleagues wishing to find out more about specific countries can follow the WHO Situation Reports, or figures from Johns Hopkins University

BSA’s thoughts remain with all those boarders and their families throughout the world, and the staff in our worldwide member schools for whom this has been such a difficult period.  Naturally we also continue to think of all those citizens throughout the world who have lost their lives or livelihoods as a result of the pandemic.  This week, however, we think particularly of school colleagues in Malaysia as they contemplate reopening schools, and next week Thailand, as well as any other colleagues throughout the world who are doing the same.

A.6: BSA Checklist and other reopening questions
The BSA CHECKLIST FOR REOPENING BOARDING is still available for all member schools worldwide to use and adapt to their own circumstances.

All COVID-19 information, including from Australia and New Zealand is now in a bespoke section on the BSA website

BSA and AGBIS are co-hosting a webinar on Wednesday at 5 pm for school leaders and governors.  Click here for booking details.

A number of schools have queried the best care for school uniforms. School Blazer has kindly produced a guidance document for members.  School Blazer is also sponsoring this week’s National Boarding Week.

BSA is also hosting a list of suppliers of vital equipment for reopening on our website, although it is essential that schools perform their own due diligence, and understand that BSA does not officially endorse any of the products listed.  The list has just been launched, so do keep an eye as it grows over the coming days and weeks.

Many schools are preparing short videos to help returning boarders envisage the return to boarding, and any restrictions which are in place. This example is from a school in Australia.

A.7: #BSAheroes
Please continue to send good news stories to us at bsa@boarding.org.uk and nominate anyone worthy of a special mention by using the hashtag #BSAheroes


B. Links to previous BSA advice

If you would like further advice from the BSA, please email bsa@boarding.org.uk.

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