Hello from Oxfordshire,
We are currently talking to a lot of very concerned families about how the coronavirus might affect their child's current or future boarding school stay in the UK.
This has made us reach out to several of our partner schools to investigate what they are already doing and planning to do to keep pupils safe, happy and learning.
Here are our key insights for you:
1)The overwhelming majority of boarding schools have no confirmed cases of coronavirus at this time.
Bar one boarding school we know of (please enquire with us directly if you want to find out which school on firstname.lastname@example.org), none of our partner schools have so far detected any pupils infected with coronavirus.
Please rest assured that either we or the schools would let you know immediately if this were to change.
2) Coronavirus is a top priority for the schools
Neeless to say, coronavirus is currently THE top priority at all schools. The schools are taking advice from the WHO, the Department of Education and relevant educational authorities on what to do and plan. They are drawing up contingency plans for the summer-term, which include the possibility of remote teaching using digital tools like virtual classrooms and postponing important exams until it is safe to administer them. The few pupils suspected of having the virus are tested, receive professional medical treatment and will, if necessary be quarantined.
3) The schools will stay open for the Easter holidays
Easter holidays are the most immediate concern. With travel risky and often restricted, pupils at boarding schools are likely to be safest by remaining in the UK. We were told by all schools we talked to that boarding houses will stay open and that pupils that don't want to or cannot travel will be allowed to say. The schools will charge families at cost.
4) Pupils leaving the UK for Easter for a 'risky' country will have to be quarantined
Most schools told us that pupils traveling to Mainland China, Italy, Iran or the Republic of Korea during the Easter Holiday run the risk of having to undergo a 14-day quarantine period upon their return, which the families will have to organise and pay for.
5) Some schools are currently not allowing for visits.
To minimize the risk of infection from an external source, schools like Haileybury and Fettes have decided to stop all visits to the schools at this time. As a temporary alternative to visits, the schools offer prospective applicants video calls. We predict that other schools might follow suit.
We will of course continue to keep a very close eye on developments here in the UK and at our partner schools. Please visit our website for regular updates on this topic or, even better, call us on Tel: +44 (0) 1235 838540 if you have any questions.
Yours von Bülow Education,