Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) guidance update as of 20.04.20
20th April 2020

This week’s Covid-19 communication covers:

  1. New update as of 20.04.20
  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
At the time of the last update (April 6, 2020) the UK had reported almost 5,000 deaths and there were just under 50,000 reported cases. In two weeks this has risen to 16,060 reported hospital deaths and 120,067 reported cases. Experts believe the number of hospital admissions is flattening, but it has become evident in recent days that any exit from lockdown is likely to be a lengthy and possibly staged process, with no change to the current arrangements before May 8. 

China continues to reopen, and some other countries are gradually lifting restrictions, but still in a very limited way. A return to “normal” is certainly still a long way off.   

Much of the guidance issued before Easter has been updated and is detailed below, along with information about Tier 4, repatriation and schools’ support for their local communities.

A.2: Contingency for UK schools restarting and for reopening boarding
The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, made it clear at the Covid briefing on 19 April that there are no immediate plans to re-open schools, despite media speculation that May 11 was being targeted as a possible date for a limited return to school. There had also been a discussion of June 1 being a potential reopening date. It is believed that the devolved administrations take a similar view and that schools reopening in any part of the UK, other than for vulnerable children, those unable to get home and children of key workers, remains unlikely in the short term. There will be significant issues for all schools whenever the decision is taken to reopen, but there will be particular concerns around boarding, of course. 

BSA has been in regular communication with DfE throughout the crisis, and last week raised the potential issues and concerns regarding reopening boarding, which the department has said it will consider and try to issue guidance when it is able. This is also an active topic of discussion with the other school associations and with the State Boarding Forum. At the moment there are no clear plans or solutions in place, but BSA is grateful to schools and individuals for highlighting specific concerns that need addressing, as these can then be fed into discussions. Please contact with any particular thoughts and viewpoints you would like to be considered. In this way, our eventual guidance can be as comprehensive as possible and responsive to the full breadth of boarding provision.

Farrer and Co. has prepared a briefing note for members relating to fee payments for the summer term. It is accessible to members on the ISBA website (login required).

BSA are mindful that schools will be starting to make plans for managing the on-going COVID-19 transmission when schools are advised they can reopen. Our nursing advisors are working with experts and will share with members as soon as we can.

In the meantime, the Government furlough scheme has been extended until the end of June and the details are available on the website.

A.5: Tier 4 duties
The UK Government has today issued updated guidance for Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 sponsors. In particular this highlights:

2.2) New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course by distance learning do not require sponsorship under Tier 4. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK. Sponsors do not need to tell the Home Office when students have moved to distance learning. These arrangements will apply until 31 May, when they will be reviewed.

2.34) Any sponsor which is currently sponsoring a child student (aged under 18) has a continuing duty of care to that child student, even if they have stopped studying, while the child remains under its sponsorship and is in the UK. The child safeguarding duties set out in Document 2 of the Tier 4 Guidance for Sponsors continue to apply.

A.4: Updated and previous guidance
The following guidance has been updated over Easter:

The Scottish Government issued the following:

The Welsh Government advice is below:

In England, the Department for Education produced updated safeguarding guidance on March 27, and BSA has subsequently received some advice from our online safety expert Karl Hopwood, who has interpreted parts of the guidance relating to online safety and distance learning. Karl’s advice sheet can be found on the BSA website. In addition to Karl’s guidance, there is further information on the SWGfL website and for ISBA members in their members' area.

A.5: Pupils from mainland China
Before Easter, InterGreat Education Group was working with BSA and with the Chinese Embassy to arrange flights home for pupils who were struggling to find one. Over Easter, BSA was delighted to hear that over 80 pupils were found such a flight, and later this week will complete their two-week quarantine at hotels in Nanjing. Not unreasonably, the Chinese Government gave priority to younger pupils and InterGreat is still actively working to get the remaining pupils home. A further flight took place just after Easter and there is likely to be another one this week. If you still have pupils unable to get home and who hold Chinese passports please contact

A.6: Other countries
Hong Kong authorities have confirmed that there are no plans for repatriation flights as there are still sufficient scheduled journeys. If you are struggling to get pupils home to other countries, BSA advises contacting the relevant embassy. Do please get in touch ( if you have specific difficulties or if you have information that might help other schools.

A.7: Accommodation for NHS workers, community support and #BSAheroes
BSA offers sincere thanks to all members who have informed us of their generous offers of accommodation for use by NHS workers. As at 4pm, Friday, 17 April, 65 members had offered a total of 10,244 beds with another three yet to report the details of their offer. BSA has been reporting these to the government each day.

If you wish to be part of this brilliant campaign please could we ask you to follow the instructions:

If you are able, please could you help ensure that our NHS workers can continue to do their life-saving work and to show the boarding sector is playing its part in the effort to defeat this dreadful disease.

BSA is also aware that many member schools are working hard to provide facilities to the local community and many others are using school equipment to manufacture PPE for health care staff. Whatever your school is doing, BSA is very grateful for your ongoing commitment.

Please continue to send good news stories to us at and nominate anyone worthy of a special mention by using the hashtag #BSAheroes.

A.8: Regional guidance
Guidance from the devolved administrations and from Ireland is regularly updated, and the main pages for each country are below:

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England has updated its 'Child Sexual Abuse in Residential Schools' hearing dates from May to November 16-27. Please click here to view the full timetable.

B. Links to previous BSA advice

If you would like further advice from the BSA, please email



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