March 2020 Covid-19, UK government guidance, next steps and possible solutions

Tuesday March 10th, 2020

In this issue we’ll be focusing on the coronavirus, including UK government guidance, next steps and possible solutions to any practical concerns you might have for the forthcoming Easter holidays.

Ireland is closing all the schools and cancelling public events with the effect from today, 12-th March.

Current situation

The situation is changing daily, but at the time of writing only a handful of children under 18 had been infected worldwide. They have all experienced only mild symptoms and have either already recovered fully or are expected to recover. The challenge we face is that for many fit and healthy people, Covid-19 could present like a bad cold. So it can be hard to know when one should self-isolate to help protect the more vulnerable people in our communities or with whom we may come into contact.

Some boarding schools offered their students to leave early, if they wish, to go home before the start of the Easter break that commences on 27th of March for senior schools and 20th for some junior schools.

Current advice

As per UK government guidelines, schools are reminding staff and students to:


stay at home if they have a cold or flu-like symptoms

call 111 if they have returned from a high-risk country and start to feel unwell with a temperature or dry cough

wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser

cough or sneeze into a tissue (and bin it immediately) or into their sleeve or arm

avoid touching their face with unwashed hands

remain away from school for a period of 14 days if students or staff have recently travelled to a high-risk country.

The UK government has also issued advice for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK from so-called category 1 or category 2 countries. Visit the Public Health England website for more details on the specified countries and areas with implications for international travel.

British scientists at the forefront

British scientists were the first to develop a laboratory test for Covid-19, but it still takes several days to determine whether someone has coronavrius.  Mologic, a UK laboratory, is working on a home-testing kit that could be used by anyone, not just trained healthcare professionals. Without the need to send off samples for testing, this could revolutionise the fight against the virus because it would allow people to find out whether they should self-isolate or whether they are clear to go to school or work. The Evening Standard suggests this would not only keep the economy moving but would also ‘transform’ the ability of developing countries without lab testing facilities to ‘track and tackle coronavirus’.

The race to create a vaccine

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £46 million investment to help UK scientists in the global race to create a coronavirus vaccine. This additional injection of capital, which has been redirected from international aid and tops up the £65 million of UK tax payers’ money that’s already being invested in the search for a vaccine, aims to reduce the typical 18-month wait for preventative treatment to just one year. Although that won’t help deal with the current epidemic – it will mean the world is better equipped to fight future outbreaks of Covid-19. There are currently eight potential vaccines being developed in Britain alone.

Easter Holiday Arrangements

Schools are working together to offer overseas students and their families safe options for the Easter holidays. If you’re worried about your child returning home and would prefer them to stay in the UK, you can take advantage of some excellent opportunities.
Students can top up their studies and experience some UK culture with trips to the seaside, to London or to Warwick castle. For example, Queenswood school for girls is joining forces with St Mary’s School in Cambridge so that more students can benefit from a programme of structured tuition in the morning (academic and creative writing, leadership, English as a foreign language tuition); enjoy local Cambridge excursions in the afternoon and nightly activities such as quiz nights, karaoke nights, film nights, etc. plus weekend trips further afield. Pupils can take part for around £1,000 per week.

Meanwhile, Blenheim High School is offering boarders the chance to stay in St Edward’s School in Oxford over the Easter break for a reduced price.

Sherborne International has launched its annual Easter courses, specifically designed for students taking GCSEs or iGCSES this summer. From 30th March you can spend one or two weeks based in the medieval Dorset town, nestled in the green hills of the south west of the UK.

Studio Cambridge has been providing English courses in Cambridge for more than 65 years and summer camps for over 50 years. They’ve launched a new Easter Revision Course for students aged 13-16 (Years 9 to 11) who are studying at UK boarding schools. It’s specifically designed with international students in mind, who are unable to return home due to the coronavirus. You can stay for one to three weeks between 28 March and 19 April.

The programme includes 15 hours of revision classes in GCSE subjects such as French, Geography, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English language and Literature every week; three afternoon sessions of life skills, including giving presentations, leadership, entrepreneurship and team-building; two afternoons of sports, arts and crafts activities and a fun Saturday afternoon activity in Cambridge, such as punting, bowling or the cinema. For around £1,000 a week, students can stay with host families who will provide breakfast plus some lunches and all evening meals, with hot lunches available on weekdays in the school cafeteria. The company will collect students from and return them to their school for no additional charge (within a 30km radius of Cambridge).

Role Models. 
This British education provider specialises in life skills courses and camps for children in the UK and internationally. Managing Director Hugo Shepherd says: “The key skills that we teach ensure students are prepared not only for the challenges of life, but will also help them thrive within the dynamic, global environment in which they are growing up. They are also proven to have a positive impact on academic attainment.”

In response to requests for a course that would make a virtue of the necessity for children to stay in the UK this Easter, Role Models have launched a Life Skills and Academic Boarding Camp for children aged 8-18 at the Oratory School in Oxfordshire over the Easter break. The camp spans the entire holiday period with each week focusing on students’ academic needs in the run up to the exam period plus life skills such as leadership & teamwork, resilience & a growth mindset and critical thinking & problem solving.

In addition, students can attend three-hour English language sessions and enjoy a full-day excursion to places like London and Oxford each week. For an additional cost, students can also take up the offer of one-to-one tutoring in the subject(s) of their choice.

If you’d like to discuss any of these options or others like them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. And if you have any concerns or questions about the impact of coronavirus on your children’s health and schooling, please do drop us a line and we will help if we can.