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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) guidance update as of 11.05.20
11th May 2020

This week’s Covid-19 communication covers:

  1. New update as of 11.05.20
  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
Countries across the world continue to ease lockdown measures, although with some degree of caution. There was initial concern in Germany for example that the easing had led to a spike in the “R” infection rate, and other countries such as Singapore and South Korea are also concerned about a second wave.  

UNESCO reports that 168 countries still have country-wide school closures, although the number with localised reopening arrangements is growing. In Europe, this now includes Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria, although each country is taking a different route towards more normal operations. In Asia, things remain very cautious, with a further reopening in China and Vietnam, but with schools in most other countries remaining closed.

WHO now lists 4 million confirmed cases, with 274,361 deaths, an increase of 36,000 since last week. In the UK, 31,855 people have now died compared to 28,446 the previous week. The thoughts of the BSA team continue to be with all those who have lost loved ones or friends as a result of the pandemic.

A.2: Reopening schools in the UK
Today the UK Government released its document “Our Plan to Rebuild”, although this ONLY applies currently to England. This makes it clear that further guidance for schools will be issued soon. The accompanying FAQs provides further clarification on permitted activity.

For the time being the guidance is:

“The rate of infection remains too high to allow the reopening of schools for all pupils yet. However, it is important that vulnerable children (including children in need, those with an Education, Health and Care plan and those assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities) and the children of critical workers are able to attend school, as is currently permitted.

"Approximately 2% of children are attending school in person, although all schools are working hard to deliver lessons remotely. But there is a large societal benefit from vulnerable children, or the children of critical workers, attending school: local authorities and schools should therefore urge more children who would benefit from attending in person to do so."

The Government is also amending its guidance to clarify that paid childcare, for example, nannies and childminders, can take place subject to being able to meet the public health principles (at Annex A of the document), because these are roles where working from home is not possible. This should enable more working parents to return to work.

In Phase 2, which will be from June 1 at the earliest, the guidance mentions a phased return for early years settings and schools:

“ A phased return for early years settings and schools. Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June. The Government expects children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point. This aims to ensure that the youngest children, and those preparing for the transition to secondary school, have maximum time with their teachers. Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some face to face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in support of their continued remote, home learning. The Government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. The Department of Education will engage closely with schools and early years providers to develop further detail and guidance on how schools should facilitate this.”

The Education Construction Network, in conjunction with the-learning-crowd has produced some useful guidance for schools., and BSA is grateful to them for sharing with us.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have made it clear that they do not see June 1st as a realistic date for reopening schools. The Scottish Government published guidance on looking beyond lockdown, click here to view this and the Welsh Government also issued Wales lockdown recovery guidance. And other parts of the British Isles and Channel Islands have also issued guidance: Isle of ManJerseyGuernsey. Northern Ireland plans to issue further guidance tomorrow (May 12, 2020)

A3: Reopening boarding in the UK
There is no mention in today’s document of residential education. Along with other associations, BSA will consider further the content of the guidance and is in touch with the DfE today on specific questions for the sector. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, BSA has had regular with Government over the past week, and, with partners at SCIS and WISC, has represented the views and concerns of the sector through both emails and telephone conversations with English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish administrations. The BSA CHECKLIST FOR REOPENING BOARDING has been shared with them all, as have other documents from bodies in the UK and internationally which contribute towards the debate. 

BSA continues to represent the particular concerns of the State Boarding Forum and has also been working closely with ISC and its constituent associations to ensure the views of boarding schools are heard and understood as new guidance is formulated. 

Both BSA and IAPS have pointed out to the Government that transition years are not the same for those moving from prep to senior school as they are for most state primaries. 

BSA is co-hosting with AGBIS  a webinar for boarding school governors and senior leaders on Thursday 21st May at 5 p.m. Booking can be made on the BSA website.

ISBA has issued further advice to members, which is available through the members’ portal.

In advance of any further guidance, BSA advises schools to consider carefully the concerns and worries of parents, carers and pupils. Parents of international pupils have made it clear that allowing their children to wear masks is a particularly important factor to them if they are to allow their children to return to the UK. 

Furthermore, the guidance issued today states:

“the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces”

BSA is also working towards producing some specific advice for nursing and medical staff, and details will be available in next Monday’s update.

BSA is aware that some schools are hoping to get international boarders back early for the September term so that they can serve any potential quarantine period. BSA is seeking clarification that a boarding house will count as “accommodation” for the purposes of the guidance, so that pupils can re-enter the country knowing that they will be safely looked after at school or, where appropriate, by guardians.

Schools are reminded to be mindful of Tier 4 considerations when planning for both current pupils and new arrivals. The latest guidance (update as of  April 20) can be found here. In particular member schools are reminded that new immigration arrangements will apply to new arrivals from Europe who enter the country on or after January 1, 2021.

Please continue to contact bsa@boarding.org.uk 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.4: Reopening boarding worldwide
BSA is holding an International Forum for Member Schools on Zoom at 09:00 UTC/GMT on Friday, May 22, (10:00 London time BST). Invitations will be sent to all member schools outside the UK, but please contact chris@boarding.org.uk if you do not receive one. BSA colleagues will be in attendance, and the Forum will be chaired by Nick Wergan, BSA Vice-Chair (Past Chair), and now European Director of Inspired Education Group. With apologies to member schools in the Americas, the time has been chosen to be accessible to the widest number of members worldwide. 

For schools planning to reopen, colleagues at ABSA shared their Australian guidance and colleagues at NZBSA (New Zealand Boarding Schools' Association) shared their own NZBSA guidance, as well as from their Ministry of Education and an explanation of their alert levels.

Since last week, concerns about international travel have grown further, with the UK the latest country to consider quarantine arrangements for visitors arriving in the country.

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 bsa@boarding.org.uk 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:

A.8: Inquiries
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. There is no update as yet regarding the inquiry in Scotland.


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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