The Christmas holidays are fast approaching, with most schools planning to close between 10th and 18th December for three weeks. This year will however be very different due to Covid-19.
We would usually have most students' flight details by now and our Guardianship Care Managers would be busy booking airport transfers to get students home to their parents for the Christmas break. Presently, we are still waiting for the majority of parents and students to tell us their plans as it would seem they are still deciding the best and right thing to do for their child.
Our students normally travel home for Christmas to spend time with their families. This year, however, it is very difficult to do this for many. Some countries are insisting that visitors from the UK quarantine for 14 days on arrival back home and in some cases, our students are required to spend the period within a government hotel. Upon returning to the UK, they will again be asked to quarantine for a further 14 days.
For those who do decide to travel despite restrictions, a Fit to Fly certificate must be produced. The testing is complicated and costly to obtain from various private testing clinics around the UK. The difficult nature of this is putting many students off and delaying their decision to travel.
The stress of planning, getting ready and undertaking the journey home and quarantining for up to 28 days, predominantly in isolation, could, in our opinion, outweigh the benefits of spending time with family back home and could be bad for our students' mental health. As hard as it is, we are recommending that students stay in the UK this year.
A host family can provide a great home from home and those students who stay with the same host family for every exeat or half term will find staying with their regular host family the most comforting solution. For many Bright World students, they have been organised and have booked in early with their host family.
For those students who do not have a regular host family, it is a rather more difficult and somewhat risky job that we have, to successfully match a student with the right host family for three weeks or more. We worry that they won't be comfortable and won't be able to move families, due to the lack of available alternatives and the restrictions of lockdown.
In most situations, where a student does not have their 'forever family' in place, we recommend one of our residential options.
Bright World is inviting all international boarding school students to join our residential programme this Christmas. Students will be able to relax in comfortable rooms, chill out in the communal areas and take part in as many or as few of the organised activities as they like. This will be available at Padworth College in Reading.
Bright World and Kings Education will be taking good care of our students' safety this Christmas. We will make sure that social distancing, hand washing and other precautions are all being followed. We will know where students are at all times and will make sure that when they are out and about, they are supervised and will be following government guidance on gatherings and mask-wearing.
We will maintain and uphold all the high standards set by UK boarding schools during the Covid-19 crisis so that there is a seamless return to school in January to continue studies.
We are all struggling during these strange times and at Bright World and Kings we are very keen to protect the mental health of our students who are staying with us at Christmas. It is disappointing for them that they cannot go home to see their family so we are determined to make sure that we are offering the next best thing.
We all know that exercise and stimulating activities are the key to combatting stress and anxiety. We equally know that we might need some encouragement to get off our devices and get out and about. The Relax & Revise programme is carefully designed to offer a perfect balance between allowing students to enjoy their own space and time and encouraging them to take part in some really interesting activities and workshops.
The weather can be cold at Christmas but there are nice fresh days to enjoy even in December. At Relax & Revise we will be encouraging students to join in on nature walks and hikes on the beach and in the countryside.
We will be offering a wide variety of sports, workouts and indoors workshops and activities that will keep students interested and motivated.
There will be new things to try at each of our Residential Centres, from an African drum workshop, Acting classes to Coding and Game making seminars.
Staying fit is really important and will protect our mental health and immune system. There will be plenty of opportunity for students to join together, albeit socially distanced, to participate in sports and small group workouts such as Yoga during the residential stay.
We will be following these tips to ensure students stay happy, healthy, relaxed and motivated.
What's happening at Padworth this Christmas.
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Listen in to Lana, Mary and Charlotte talking about the Christmas programmes.