The Autumn 2020 term is under way. We are delighted that so many of our students have returned or are planning to return soon despite the many barriers that Covid-19 has presented.
Now that all the students are safely in their boarding houses and all the Bright World team back at their desks (albeit remotely), what happens next and why is the school/guardianship partnership more important now than it has ever been?
When it comes to schools and guardians, just like any relationship; partnership, compromise and flexibility are key. But how do both parties navigate what can be, at times a tricky relationship?
In normal times, throughout the year, guardians and schools must constantly share information and keep in close contact. This keeps the overseas children under our care safe, whether they are travelling to and from airports, are in school or are staying with our host families during the holiday times.
This year, with Covid-19 darkening all of our skies, it is even more important that schools and guardians work together. We need to understand each others' situations and develop an even deeper feeling of trust between us. Then we will be able to work through the unprecedented situations that will arise together.
No sooner students are back and out of quarantine, Bright World Guardianship Care Managers are finalising plans for the autumn exeat weekend and half term arrangements.
This year, many schools have taken the decision to keep their boarding houses open for the first exeat which is coming up over the next two weekends. Some are also remaining open during the half term. Other schools are balancing the practicality of staying open with the need for students to have a change of scene and have decided to give them the option to go to a host family. A good number of schools are closing completely to give everyone a rest.
At Bright World Guardianships, we have adapted accordingly. We are now busy liaising with overseas agents and parents, presenting schools with preferences of parents and students along with the solutions we are making to fit in with their Autumn model. This may be telling them that students wish to remain in school or giving everyone the details of the host family where they are going to stay. Some students will be attending our residential Relax & Revise Programme in Cambridge.
Airport transfer information with details of drivers collecting and dropping off also need to be shared with schools in a timely fashion for those students who will return home as there are no quarantine restrictions on their return.
Schools have invested much time and so much work putting extra measures in place to ensure that the risk of infection is minimal in school.
When students leave school and are under our care, we have a duty and a responsibility to ensure that the same due diligence is continued out of school. With safe and hygienic travel a vital part of what we do, Bright World drivers are all signed up to our Covid-19 Driver and Passenger Safe Policy.
When students stay with a Bright World host family, schools can rest assured that government guidance is being followed by the host family and social distancing, wearing of masks in shops and on public transport will be expected of students. Host families will also be encouraging students to wash their hands regularly and remain in the house as much as possible during their short stay.
Students taking part in our Relax & Revise Programme in Cambridge will be benefitting from single ensuite rooms with similar social distancing measures in place as for quarantine but with the added flexibility of being able to go out for walks to local areas and enjoy the surroundings as well as an opportunity to visit Cambridge.
Whatever a Bright World student is doing when not in school, when they are under our care we are doing all we can to keep them safe and healthy ready for their return to school.
Government guidance is clear. If you contract Covid-19 or have symptoms, you should stay where you are and isolate and take a test. For international students who board at school, if they present with symptoms at school then they should isolate in school. Similarly, for students in host families, we would expect the host family to take care of the student and for them to stay put. In accordance with the household isolation guidance, our students would be required to isolate for 14 days, if a member of the host family showed symptoms.
With this in mind, a spirit of cooperation and transparency between school and guardian is so vital at this time. Bright World would never knowingly return a student to school who had symptoms, and in return we benefit from a feeling of trust that our partner schools would act as responsibly to protect our host families. We feel it is vitally important to have this level of trust and understanding between schools and guardians, thus keeping our students, host families and schools as safe as possible.
We continue to be impressed with the resilience of the UK boarding school sector and how schools have worked tirelessly to adapt to the Covid-19 situation. Because we, as guardians and schools worked so hard over the final term and the summer months, overseas parents should and do now feel comfortable enough to send their children back.
We now pledge to continue to work together with our partner schools to continue the successful start to this Autumn Term. Here's to a happy and smooth-running few months and remember, if our students need to stay at Christmas - Bright World is here to help.