Re-opening Boarding

We are so happy to have our Boarders back at Highfield. The safety of the children remains our paramount concern and we are implementing all government advised protective measures against Covid-19, and every stringent hygiene and social distancing requirement. 

The following information provides details about our approach to ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all children and staff, while ensuring that we continue to provide a first-rate boarding education for every child, whether from the UK or overseas.

We review and update the information below as the guidance on Covid-19 evolves and according to the advice we receive from the Government Public Health England (PHE) and the Boarding Schools Association (BSA).

LAST UPDATED: 1st October 2020

Is boarding now fully open at Highfield?

Our boarding provision initially opened for children who were not able to attend the school, unless they were residential. This meant that our international, forces and ex-pat children returned to boarding first.

After allowing time for us all to get used to living and working with the new structures, we were delighted to welcome back our local boarders too at the end of September.

New boarders, regardless of when they start at Highfield, are given a friendly and thorough induction to the school and boarding school life. They receive the highest levels of pastoral support and guidance as well as the support and friendship of a peer mentor to help them through their first weeks and months at Highfield.

In order to mitigate the risk of infections we are regrettably not offering our Steps to Boarding programme until further notice. 

Will Boarders arriving from overseas be required to quarantine on arrival in the UK?

As we have seen over recent weeks, quarantine requirements for travellers to England have changed several times and we envisage that they will continue to do so as the situation evolves. An up to date list of countries and territories with no self-isolation requirement on arrival in England can be viewed here.

Boarders arriving from countries not on this list, or if they made a transit stop in a country that is not on this list, will need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

Regardless of when the child is able to join us at Highfield, they will be given a friendly and thorough induction to the school and boarding school life. They will, alongside their established boarding peers, receive the highest levels of pastoral support and guidance as well as the support and friendship of a peer mentor to help them through their first weeks and months at Highfield.

What happens at Exeats if the 14 day quarantine rule is still in place for some countries?

Provision is in place should a child or children be required to isolate, or be unable to return home due to quarantine restrictions. Where children are unable to be looked after by family, host families or guardians they will be given the option to stay in school where they will be well cared for.

We will continue to monitor quarantine and travel requirements and liaise with parents to ensure that we can do the very best for children at Exeats. 

 

 

What precautions is Highfield taking to keep children safe from Covid-19?

We are proud to have committed to adhering to the Boarding Schools' Association's (BSA) COVID-Safe Charter. Established in May 2020, the Charter aims to ensure the safety of all pupils and staff as schools begin to re-open across the UK, following closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You may also be interested to read our Covid-19 Boarding Handbook for more information about how we are managing boarding safely.

What are the current procedures for managing boarding safely during Covid-19?

Boarders are separated into distinct groups to create separate 'households' (or boarding bubbles) with their own living zones. There is one for the Junior boarders in Years 4 to 6, and then children in Years 7 and 8 are organised as two separate bubbles of boys and girls, socially distanced when inside at times such as breakfast and supper, toast and prep, but when outside able to sit and play together, albeit in conformity with social distancing requirements. 

We have conducted a thorough Risk Assessment of the Junior and Senior Boarding Houses. The number of pupils in dormitories has been reduced to ensure there is more space available for each pupil. Boarders will also notice changes to the layout of areas such as Common Rooms and bathrooms to aid with social distancing. 

For more information, see our Covid-19 Boarding Handbook

Will wearing face masks be obligatory at Highfield & Brookham?

Although not obligatory, pupils and staff will be allowed to wear masks or face coverings at school, and we will ensure children are helped to wear them correctly and safely should they choose to do so. Highfield has also acquired a large stock of face masks and protective personal equipment (PPE) to ensure all staff have the appropriate equipment for performing certain roles, such as cleaning, catering and medical staff.

We recognise and understand that the wearing of masks may be unusual or disconcerting for some children, yet reassuring and normal for others. This will be proactively and robustly addressed as part of our pastoral care programme, and we will support and guide all pupils in developing a tolerant and mutually respectful approach to this on their return to school and beyond.

What is the procedure if a pupil or member of staff develops symptoms of COVID-19?

If a boarder becomes unwell with possible COVID-19 symptoms their parents are notified, and the child is able to isolate in one of the designated and very comfortable isolation rooms we have created, where we will conduct an on-site test. The test results take approximately 20 minutes to be confirmed.

If the boarder tests negative: they may return to lessons once they feel better and have been free of fever for 24 hours, without the use of medication.

If the boarder tests positive: they will need to self-isolate for 10 days. Children who are not able to isolate at home will be cared for by the Boarding Staff and Nursing Team. The rest of their boarding bubble will need to quarantine for a total of 14 days in line with current government guidelines. If another child tests positive in that same bubble, the quarantine will again be for 14 days from the onset of those symptoms. If more than one member of the boarding household bubble tests positive, we will liaise with Public Health England and the Health Protection Agency on next steps. 

If a day pupil or member of staff should test positive they must remain at home and self-isolate for a period of 10 days. Their own household and their boarding household bubble must also quarantine for 14 days.

How will the children required to quarantine access their lessons?

Lessons will be recorded and the children will either be able to join live or watch the lesson at a later time.  As was the case during the Summer Term 2020, teachers will provide instructions and resources for them to access.
 

What health care facilities are available for boarders at Highfield?

Highfield’s Health Centre has been relocated to a spacious room previously used as a classroom in the boys’ Boarding House. This area has been chosen as it has two separate entrances, each with bathroom facilities. This means that any unwell or injured child can be triaged by the Nurses and guided to the appropriate entrance. In this way, we will limit any unwanted exposure to possible COVID-19 infection. The new Health Centre has plenty of space for private consultations and a comfortable rest area.

If a boarder becomes unwell with possible COVID-19 symptoms they will be cared for in isolation dorms allocated in each Boarding House. Parents will be informed and an on-site COVID-19 test will be carried out. Results take approximately 20 minutes to confirm.

Our two qualified and experienced school nurses run the Health Centre and look after the medical needs of the Boarders.

Following the Coronavirus outbreak, Highfield has also acquired a large stock of face masks and protective personal equipment (PPE) to ensure all staff have the appropriate equipment for performing their roles. 
 

I am interested in my child starting as a new pupil at the school, but worried about making a financial commitment right now. What is the current fee/deposit policy?

The coronavirus pandemic presents us with extraordinary circumstances and an unprecedented level of uncertainty, which especially affects our families overseas. We completely understand the challenges for international parents trying to make plans and wish to ‘de-risk’ the decision as much as possible. That's why we introduced our ‘Covid-19 Guarantee’.

 

  • If, after paying your deposit, your child is unable to start at the school for a Covid-19 related reason, we will return your deposit, or allow you to defer your place (subject to availability). You will not be liable for the term’s fees.
  • If attendance at the school is still subject to Covid-19 restrictions when they are due to start, and we are only able to offer your child remote teaching, you will be given the option to defer your place until they are able to attend in person. 

Read more about our ‘Covid-19 Guarantee’.

My child is due to start as a new pupil, but what would happen if they arrive late because of visa or quarantine issues?

We understand that the coronavirus pandemic has caused delays with visas, and that quarantine requirements can fluctuate. We are happy to be flexible and allow new pupils to start later in the term, or to defer their place, as long as there is space available. We will make sure the child is brought up to speed academically, and helped to integrate and make friends quickly. New pupils whose start date is delayed to part way through the term, will only be charged for the part of the term’s fee that they are able to attend.

The coronavirus pandemic presents us with extraordinary circumstances and an unprecedented level of uncertainty, which especially affects our families overseas. That’s why we have introduced our ‘Covid-19 Guarantee’.

Further questions?

We do hope that you find this information useful. Further information can also be found in our Covid-19 Boarding Handbook and we will provide regular updates as the situation evolves, and you are welcome to contact us with any further questions or concerns using the Comment Form.

Please do sign up to our International Parent Groups on Facebook or on LinkedIn where we will also announce further updates to this information.

Are you able to access tests for students or staff who develop symptoms?

We are delighted to say that the school has been able to purchase its own supply of on-site fully accredited Covid-19 antigen tests which offer a very fast turnaround time, with results available within 20 minutes.

The availability of these tests, in conjunction with the safety protocols being operated in the boarding houses, means that we are able to run boarding successfully and avoid lengthy periods of isolation for our boarders while awaiting test results. 

 

 

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