This week’s Covid-19 communication covers:
- New update as of 08.06.20
- 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 situation worldwide is that an increasing number of countries are beginning to reopen schools, although country-wide closures remain in 129 countries, according to UNESCO. Many countries in the northern hemisphere will not reopen their schools until after the summer break. In England, a number of schools reopened last week to Year 6, including some boarders, and schools are planning to admit some Year 10 and 12 pupils from next Monday. Wales has announced a first reopening date of June 29, and Scotland has informed schools that they may reopen from August 11. The UK introduced a quarantine procedure today, June 08. See Sections A.3 and A.4 for a further discussion of the UK situation.
The number of worldwide deaths reported by WHO has risen to 397,388 from 367,161 last week and Johns Hopkins University now has the number at over 400,000. The Americas now account for 70% of reported daily deaths, but community transmission remains an issue in parts of Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian sub-continent. In the UK the number of deaths has reached 40,000 (40,542).
A.2: COVID-Safe Charter
The reaction to the BSA COVID-SAFE CHARTER, has been overwhelmingly positive, with member schools in a number of countries signalling their support. Schools wishing to adopt it may use the logo to accompany the Charter. This can be used by any schools which have adopted the Charter, and BSA advocates using the logo as a button which is linked to the full document. We would be grateful if schools would inform BSA that they have adopted the Charter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Charter is, of course, voluntary and the principal purpose is to allow schools to reassure parents and pupils that they are taking all reasonable steps to ensure their safety, which is why in some instances it goes beyond some Government requirements. As mentioned last week, the Charter will need to remain dynamic, as the worldwide situation changes. BSA is currently working on some minor changes to the wording for version 2 to clarify the following points:
- Nothing in the Charter is designed to override local protocols.
- Information relating to the efficacy of temperature checks varies from country to country, so it will be for each school to decide if this is an appropriate measure for them.
- There is no assumption under the Charter that any school will provide quarantine for incoming pupils, although some will wish to. At any event, it is essential that the school clarifies any arrangements with parents and pupils.
Unfortunately, some specific advice relating to these amendments is still awaited, so it is anticipated that version 2 will be available next Monday (June 15).
BSA is aware that the return of boarders is still a long way off for some schools, by which time the national and international situation will have changed considerably. However, BSA would ask all member schools to understand that some already have boarders returning, and some are expecting them to do so imminently, which is why it is essential that the Charter should already be available.
In order to support our member schools, we have delivered several webinars and Q&A sessions with agents in China and Hong Kong to help with international recruitment and retention. We are planning a similar event in Germany. We have received very positive feedback from agents that adopting the Charter is helpful in reassuring parents that it is safe for their children to return.
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 and Russian have already been commissioned and will be available on the BSA website imminently.
A.3: Return to school: UK
There have been a number of significant developments in the last week. 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:
- ENGLAND: Reception and years 1 and 6 are already allowed in school. From next Monday schools are allowed to have up to 25% of Years 10 and 12 in school at any one time. On Friday DfE clarified that this meant 25% of the total combined number, rather than 25% of each year group. It was also made clear that there is no exemption for smaller cohorts. Questions relating to the status of boarders “on site” in relation to these numbers have not yet been answered, despite pressing by BSA and ISC. It is not yet clear that the Secretary of State envisages a full return to school for all year groups in September, and schools must plan accordingly.
- SCOTLAND: Deputy First Minister John Swinney has informed schools that they may have a “safe, phased opening” from 11 August. The guidance on a return to school was developed in conjunction with the schools and SCIS and references the BSA checklist.
- WALES: BSA last week received the following message from WISC: Kirsty Williams has announced today that Schools in Wales will open on Monday 29th June and the summer term will end on the 27th July 2020. There will be an extra week break for the extended summer term at the autumn half term. To summarise, our Education Minister is taking a very cautious approach and schools will be open to a third of pupils at any one time, safety measures will be in place and there will be staggered starts and smaller class sizes. The primary concern is the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff. The thinking behind this is that schools use this opportunity for children to check in, catch up and prepare for September. Further guidance is expected this week.
- NORTHERN IRELAND: There will be “limited provision for key cohort years in August, followed by a phased provision for all pupils at the beginning of September”.
Visa centres around the world are beginning to reopen. The Home Office has also issued the following documents:
A.4: UK Quarantine
The requirement for quarantining travellers arriving in the UK began today, June 08. The policy will be first reviewed in three weeks, and there is no indication as yet whether the policy will still be in force at the beginning of the Autumn Term.
The DfE has confirmed that schools will be deemed as suitable accommodation for any quarantine requirement, and this has also been confirmed by the Scottish Government, subject to Home Office requirements being met. A report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph reported Baroness Berridge as saying that further guidance will be issued, and BSA is urgently seeking to clarify what this guidance might be. 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.
BSA is also aware that the availability of flights will possibly be a further hindrance to boarders wishing to resume their studies. Some countries, including China, are limiting the number of flights to each destination. BSA has made enquiries regarding the possibility of any co-ordinated arrangements, potentially including charter flights. The costs are likely to be prohibitive, but BSA will continue to explore all appropriate avenues.
A.6: Return to boarding internationally
The BSA CHECKLIST FOR REOPENING BOARDING is available for all member schools worldwide to use and adapt to their own circumstances.
The next BSA International Forum has been arranged for 15:00 UK time (BST) on Tuesday, June 16. This is 16.00 GMT/UTC. Apologies on this occasion to colleagues for whom this will be late at night, but we are trying to make things easier for those from the Americas for whom the time was unsociable last time round!
At the last Forum Richard Stokes, CEO of the Australian Boarding Schools’ Association shared a particularly valuable “Outbreak Management Plan”, as well as highlighting the other documentation from Australia which is now on the BSA website, along with similar guidance from New Zealand.
Please continue to send good news stories to us at email@example.com and nominate anyone worthy of a special mention by using the hashtag #BSAheroes.
B. Links to previous BSA advice
- June 1, 2020
- May 26, 2020
- May 18, 2020
- May 11, 2020
- May 04, 2020
- April 27, 2020
- April 20, 2020
- April 6, 2020
- March 30, 2020
- March 23, 2020
- March 18, 2020
- March 17, 2020
- March 09, 2020
- March 02, 2020
- February 25, 2020
- February 24, 2020
- February 17, 2020
- February 10, 2020
- February 3, 2020
- January 27, 2020.
If you would like further advice from the BSA, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.