A resilient, flexible, caring host family network is paramount in determining how "good" a guardianship organisation is. Boarding schools close for short and extended holidays and all students must travel home or stay with their guardian host family during these times. Emergencies and unforeseen circumstances can also happen throughout the academic year, where host families are also required.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our host families have gone above and beyond, stepping outside of their normal hosting periods. Exeat weekends with half-term breaks have stretched to Easter, Summer, Christmas and even quarantine stays, not to mention a few lockdowns thrown in for good measure!
With Covid still around and causing travel restrictions, for now at least; When can overseas parents expect their child to stay with their host family and when should they expect their child to stay at school?
Some UK Boarding Schools have exeat weekends, where boarders must leave school for two nights. Half term holiday times are also reserved for staff to have a break and so boarding houses normally close during this time.
Current travel restrictions have meant that some schools have remained open to accommodate students, whilst host families have been the alternative solution for overseas students who can't stay at school. Parents and Schools should expect their appointed guardian to put additional measures in place to ensure their child remains safe during this time. At this time, they should also make sure they will be able to extend their stay if they develop Covid whilst at their host family.
At the end of each term boarding houses close and international students are expected to travel home to spend the longer holidays with their family. Easter, Summer and Christmas residential programmes are also available to students who want to remain in the UK but these programmes often do not cover the full duration of the holiday.
Since March 2020, Bright World has been offering a choice of host family and residential programmes for students who want to remain in the UK during these times. Some UK boarding schools have chosen to remain open throughout the holiday times. Parents should check with their guardianship provider as to whether they can assist during these times.
It is hard to imagine it, but before the year 2020, flight cancellations were few and far between with guardianship acting as an insurance policy for this worst case scenario. Delays and cancellations are now part of our everyday life and parents should expect their guardianship organisation to make swift arrangements for their child to stay with a fully screened host family overnight if required. Safe, friendly, professional drivers should also be on hand to ensure no student is left unaccompanied.
Student suspensions, illness and mental health concerns happen pandemic or no pandemic and host families offer invaluable support for overseas students. during these times.
Offering much needed neutral ground, it is vital students are able to stay with a friendly host family, until they are able to return to school. Parents should expect quick, professional advice and support from The Designated Safeguarding lead (DSL) during this time.
It is important to be aware of the current UK Government advice which asks boarders without family residents to isolate at their boarding school if they test positive, or are showing symptoms of Covid-19. You should therefore, not expect your child's host family to take them in during this time. If this event were to occur you should expect your UK Guardian to handle this matter directly with the school.
If your child were to develop Covid-19 during their stay with their host family then you should inform you guardian right away and they should follow advice which asks students to isolate with their host family for 10 days.
When UK Schools closed in March 2020 and again in January this year following a surge in UK Coronavirus cases, some guardian students were unable to make it back to their home country and some boarding houses were not able to remai open.
Vulnerable and in the absence of family members in the UK, Guardianship Organisations like Bright World became life lines for students, arranging host family stay for much longer periods that are normally required. Host Families helped students to access online learning and supported them during this unsettling time.
Private Fostering laws in the UK mean that if any child under the age of 16 in the UK stays with someone who is not a close relative for more than 28 days, this is considered as a private fostering arrangement. In these cases, UK authorities deem it necessary to make checks on the person or people taking care of the child and to inspect their home and ensure it is safe and appropriate.
Parents should ask to see Covid Contingency Plans in the event of future lockdown, so they can be assured that their guardian would step in to make swift arrangements and help Local Authorities if required.
Bright World Guardianships has offered quarantine since the UK government introduced measures in 2020 and host families have been instrumental in the safe return of our students.
We will continue to offer quarantine in specially selected host families around the UK for students arriving from Amber destinations. All of our quarantine host families have passed a risk assessment to ensure that they have the correct facilities and are willing to step in and take care of our students in case of illness.
All Bright World host families who are offering quarantine are fully versed in the Test to Release scheme and the Test to Travel tests that are currently required for all arrivals and will assist students to take the tests and post them off to make quarantine times as short as possible.