Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) guidance update as of 04.05.20
4th May 2020

This week’s Covid-19 communication covers:

  1. New update as of 04.05.20
  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
Across the world, countries are either easing or planning to ease lockdown measures. Although many of the lockdown themes in recent weeks have been common across the world, there have been a number of significant differences, and strategies for reopening similarly vary from country to country. Some countries are gradually reopening schools, but others have made it clear that they are not contemplating reopening before September. Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, announced on Friday that Irish schools would reopen as phase five of a graded plan, and not before the summer. Where reopening is taking place, generally it is not for the full cohort and with safety and distancing measures in place. Germany, where each state decides education policy, today reopened “some schools in some states on some days for some year groups”. Schools also reopened today in Vietnam, but many countries in Asia remain very cautious, with Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong not yet planning to reopen.

Section A4 contains an international overview of the current status of the countries with the largest number of international boarders studying in UK schools (according to the 2020 ISC census) and also countries with the largest number of BSA members.  Figures are taken from World Health Organisation situation report 104 from May 3, 2020 and also from Johns Hopkins University. Any comments about national policies have been verified wherever possible from official Government or Ministry of Education websites of the relevant country. BSA provides this for the general information of members only, who are asked to independently verify any particular information which might be of relevance or importance to them.

Last week the UK had reported 20,732 deaths, which has now risen to 28,446, although the method of calculation was changed during the week, and this would have been 24,097 under the old measure. WHO indicates that the world has seen 238,628 deaths of which 92% are in Europe and the Americas. The thoughts of the BSA team are with all those who have lost loved ones or friends as a result of the pandemic, and with our member schools as they seek to find an appropriate way forward.

A.2: Reopening boarding in the UK
BSA continues to liaise with ISC, including WISC and SCIS, and remains in regular contact with UK Government. The BSA CHECKLIST FOR REOPENING BOARDING is available for colleagues to use as they make their plans for the next phase. It should be tailored by each school to suit their own circumstances. As the checklist makes clear, no assumptions are made regarding a possible timeline, although it is clear that there will be at least three weeks to prepare. The checklists from other parts of the world (see A3 below) also have some useful content and ideas.

Wherever possible the devolved administrations have tried to work collaboratively.  However, England seems set to issue a plan for easing the lockdown this coming Sunday (May 10), whereas the First Ministers in Wales and Scotland have already published some guidance. Mark Drakeford in Wales envisages possibly opening primary schools on June 01.

The Scottish Government published guidance on looking beyond lockdown, click here to view this and the Welsh Government also issued Wales lockdown recovery guidance. Further thoughts from Northern Ireland are expected this week, and other parts of the British Isles and Channel Islands have also issued guidance: Isle of ManJerseyGuernsey

During a meeting with BSA on Friday, the Home Office confirmed they will continue to update the Tier 4 COVID guidance, released at the end of March, as and when it is appropriate. The latest guidance (update as of  April 20) can be found here

Please continue to contact with any particular thoughts and viewpoints you feel need to be considered, and these can then be reflected in our checklist and in conversations with Ministers and other Government officials.

A.3: Reopening boarding worldwide
Australian boarding schools planning to reopen are required to undertake “a facility-specific, systematic risk-assessment”.  We are grateful to colleagues at ABSA (Australian Boarding Schools Association) for sharing the Australian guidance and to colleagues at NZBSA (New Zealand Boarding Schools Association) for sharing their own NZBSA guidance, as well as from their Ministry of Education and an explanation of their alert levels.

Member schools worldwide will find these useful documents when considering reopening, and BSA would be very pleased to see any similar documents from other countries. It is clear that the logistics of a residential environment require considerable additional measures compared even to the complexities of a day school, and the safety of pupils and staff remains paramount.

Currently, international travel is very difficult, if not impossible, and BSA will monitor advice and developments regarding international boarders across the world, and post updates as we receive them.

A.4: The international situation
BSA has 104 member schools in 34 countries outside the UK. According to the ISC Census 2020, there are currently 29,446 pupils in UK schools whose parents live across the world, plus several hundred in state boarding provision. The current situation in the countries most highly represented against those two measures is described below, although the national measures indicated may not apply to private and boarding schools, depending on the legislative framework in the country. Do please let us know of any inaccuracies or omissions. BSA would be very pleased to hear from any member school which has opened or is planning to do so soon. Please let us know at A BSA International Forum is currently being planned and will be announced in this Friday’s BSA newsletter.

  • China. There are 8,290 boarders from China at ISC schools in the UK and BSA has ten member schools there and a developing partnership with InterGreat Education Group. Having been the first country to be affected by Covid 19, China saw over 80,000 cases and 4,643 deaths, however, there are now very few new cases each day, and schools across the country have been reopening over the last few weeks, with those in Hubei province opening tomorrow in a limited way.
  • Hong Kong SAR. Currently, there are 5,127 ISC boarders from Hong Kong. The region was one of the first to lock down, and there is no current evidence from the Education Bureau of a return to school, despite there only being four deaths attributable to Covid 19 in Hong Kong.  A planned reopening on April 20 was postponed.  Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam is planning to send older children back to school first.
  • Thailand. There are 871 Thai pupils in UK schools and five BSA member schools in the country. There have been 2,969 cases and 54 deaths. Although the infection rate is 4.25 per 100,000 people (compared to 276.7 in the UK), the Thai Government has announced that the new semester will not begin until July 1st
  • South Korea. South Korea has 524 pupils in ISC schools. The country was initially very hard hit by the virus, but effective control measures limited the spread to 10,793 cases and 250 deaths. The country now believes it is safe for children to go back to school, with a phased reopening programme from next week until June 01.
  • Malaysia. 455 pupils from Malaysia attend school in the UK and there are seven BSA member schools in the country. There have been 6,176 cases and 103 deaths.  Schools closed at the mid-term holiday in March. Some businesses are now reopening, and the Government indicated that schools would do so several weeks later, with no confirmed date as yet.
  • India. BSA has five member schools in India. There have been approximately 40,000 cases and 1.301 deaths and there are currently no plans for schools to re-open.
  • Kenya. Kenya has four BSA members. There are currently 435 cases and 22 deaths, but fears about the potential spread meant that schools were closed in mid-March and according to the Education Cabinet Secretary will not reopen until at least June, although some private schools seemed to be planning to reopen earlier, he said.
  • Nigeria. The country sends 921 boarders to the UK and currently has 2,388 cases and 85 deaths. Schools closed in mid-March and the Federal Ministry of Education has contingency plans based on short, medium and long-term closure, but there are no plans to reopen as yet. There are three BSA member schools in Nigeria.
  • Ireland. BSA has eight member schools in Ireland, where there have been 1,265 Covid 19 related deaths and 21,176 recorded cases. As mentioned above it was announced on Friday that there would be a five-phase reopening “Roadmap” for the country but that schools would not be opened before September, other than a two-week provision for those taking the Leaving Certificate.
  • Germany. 1,843 pupils come from Germany to ISC schools in the UK. The country has 162,496 cases and 6,649 deaths.  Education is organised by each federal state, although coronavirus responses have been largely, but not totally nationwide. As mentioned above, some schools have started to reopen on a gradual basis this week.
  • Italy. Italy sends 488 pupils to ISC schools in the UK. It is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world with 209,328 cases and 28,710 deaths. The lockdown has been partially eased but Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced that schools will not reopen before September.
  • Spain. Similarly in Spain schools will not reopen this term. After 216,582 cases and 25,100 deaths the lockdown there has also only just been eased for the first time. Spain sends 1,412 pupils to ISC schools the UK.
  • France. France on the other hand, which has had 129,458 cases and 24,724 deaths, is opening elementary schools from May 11, followed by middle schools and then high schools at the end of the month. 406 pupils from France attend UK ISC schools.
  • Switzerland. Switzerland has twelve BSA member schools. There are 1,466 deaths in the country and 29,734 cases. Switzerland is planning to reopen primary and lower secondary schools next Monday, May 11.
  • USA. BSA has six member schools in the USA. There is much pressure to remove the lockdown, but this will be on a state by state basis, as decided by the Governor. Nationally the number of cases continues to grow, with now 62,406 dead from well over 1 million cases.
  • Russia. There are 1,442 pupils from Russia in UK schools, and one BSA member.  The pandemic did not begin to spike in Russia until later than elsewhere, but there have now been 134,687 cases and 1,280 deaths. With it being such a large country, school closures are localised to the affected areas.

BSA’s best wishes go to all of our International Schools and to all pupils and families from overseas who attend BSA schools in the UK. 

A.5: Previous guidance
A reminder of previous guidance

The Scottish Government issued the following:

The Welsh Government advice is below:

A.6: #BSAheroes

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

A.7: 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 scheduled to begin next Monday has updated its 'Child Sexual Abuse in Residential Schools' hearing dates 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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