Everybody was shocked and saddened over the weekend to hear that the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had been moved to the intensive care unit of St Thomas' Hospital in London, after his coronavirus symptoms had worsened. This put the severity of the virus into perspective for many people.
As well as arranging a few last-minute travel arrangements, our Guardianship Care Managers began the week sending out the video messages they had recorded to their students. A link to the video, along with a link to the video from each student's Bright World Buddy, was sent out to each of them. This marked the commencement of the Keeping in Touch initiative, which will see us engaging with our students in many different ways over the weeks to come.
Students who are studying in years 9, 10 and 11 were also informed about the Your Favourite Teacher e-learning platform, and provided with their login details. All our students who are studying for GCSE have been granted access to this handy virtual classroom free of charge. This is another element of our Keeping in Touch initiative.
On Tuesday, we launched our short story competition - 500 Bright Words. The competition, another segment of our Keeping in Touch project, is open to all Bright World students. They are being given the chance to win a £100, £50, or £25 voucher for their entries. The objective of the competition is to write 500 words about a positive, or perhaps humorous situation, which has arisen out of the coronavirus pandemic. This story can be fictional or non-fictional. The overall intention of this is to share and celebrate examples of positivity during a sad situation.
After the closing date, all entries will be scored by our team of four judges. The winning story will not only win a prize, but will also be read aloud by a special guest on Bright World's soon to be launched podcast- Bright Sounds.
By mid-week, more students had managed to catch a flight home. We learned that an agency was now assisting with the Chinese Embassy with repatriation, making the whole process a lot easier. Our China office began coordinating arrangements with them, as well as translating all updates and sending them to Chinese parents.
A large number were now mid-way through their quarantine period in their home country. Our safeguarding and guardianship teams continued to get in touch with these students, to check in on them and make sure they were coping with the situation. It seemed that most of them were doing well, in spite of the circumstances, and were trying their best to live their lives as normally as they could. One of our Hong Kong students who was in the process of applying to another school, even took their school entrance tests from their quarantine hotel room, as arranged by Admissions Manager, Cory Holden.
The Accommodation and Travel Team once again began to contact all host families currently hosting students. This time they were phoning them to not only check up on the students in their care, but also to provide details of our 500 Bright Words competition, so they could urge their students to take part.
Following our coordination with the Chinese Embassy and the other agency involved, another one of our students managed to fly home on Thursday's repatriation flight. Meanwhile, some parents were deeming this service to be too costly, and so were opting for their children to remain in the UK. As well as the cost of the flight itself, all Chinese students were also having to spend a lot of money for the compulsory quarantine service on arrival. Our host families were happy, as always, to continue hosting in unanticipated circumstances such as this.
Our Guardianship Care Manager and Local Coordinator video messages were being very well received by our students and their parents. We received lots of lovely responses from parents who were delighted to hear that we were making contact, and were appreciative of the plans we had in store for their sons and daughters. Some were so appreciative, in fact, that they offered to send us masks and other supplies to help combat the virus.
The Good Friday bank holiday saw our team enjoy a very well deserved break. After what had been an incredibly busy, and sometimes stressful month or so, it was great for the whole team to re-energise ahead of what was looking to be another busy period for Bright World.