Preparing to Re-open Boarding

We are preparing to welcome Boarders back to Highfield for the Autumn Term. The safety of the children remains our paramount concern and we will implement all government advised protective measures against Covid-19, and meet any and every stringent hygiene or 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.

The guidance on Covid-19 is still evolving in the UK. We will continually review and update the information below, according to advice we receive from the Government Public Health England (PHE) and the Boarding Schools Association (BSA).

LAST UPDATED: 28th July 2020

When will schools fully re-open in the UK?

All schools are now allowed to re-open in the UK, provided they can adhere to stringent guidelines. At Highfield and Brookham, Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils were the first to return at the beginning of June, and all pupils were able to return from 22nd June. 

The UK Government has clarified that the return to schools in September will be at the normal beginning of term date, for all pupils, in all year groups.

When will boarding re-open at Highfield?

We are preparing for a phased re-opening of boarding in the Autumn Term as a result of some restrictions still being in place. Our operations are being carefully planned to ensure we can meet the current hygiene and social distancing requirements, and we are monitoring these closely to ensure we adapt to any changes in the guidance over the summer.

Which Boarders will be able to return first?

Assuming the current guidelines are still in place, our boarding provision will begin by re-opening for children who are not able to attend the school, unless they are residential. This means our international, forces, ex-pat and vulnerable children will be invited to return to boarding first. While we would love to have all our local Boarders back, we envisage that government guidelines will mean they start as Day Children in September, and return to boarding as soon as restrictions allow.

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

The UK Government has recently announced the lifting of quarantine requirements for travellers to England from 75 countries. 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.

If the 14 day quarantine rule is in place for the country they are travelling from, can Boarders quarantine at Highfield before term starts?

The UK Government has confirmed that schools will be deemed as suitable accommodation for any quarantine requirement. We had been planning to offer a 2-week pre-sessional programme for pupils arriving from overseas, which would allow children to ‘quarantine’ in our safe and secure environment.

However, the latest guidance has suggested that children ‘in quarantine’ would have to be quarantined individually and not be allowed to mix together. This is a rather different proposition, and we have concerns about how it would affect the child’s happiness and emotional well-being.

Given this requirement, the most viable options would be for the child to quarantine alone with their appointed guardian, or with a parent on arrival in the UK. 

What will happen at Exeats and Half Term if the 14 day quarantine rule is still in place for some countries?

If quarantine restrictions are still in place for some countries during the Autumn Term, we will encourage all pupils to avoid travelling to those countries during Exeats and Half Term, and encourage pupils resident in those countries to stay with their local guardians instead. Should this not be possible, we will consider alternative arrangements at school.

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 in our article about how we managed Returning to School Safely for our first Highfield year groups in June, and the document listing some of the main Safety Precautions that have been in place during the Summer Term.

What are the current plans for re-opening boarding safely during Covid-19?

We plan to re-start our boarding provision with a reduced number of Boarders who will be separated into small groups, to create separate 'households' with their own living zones. There will be separate Year 7 and Year 8 households in the senior boys and girls boarding houses, with a Year 4-6 household in the Junior Boarding House. The aim of this re-structuring is to enable us to reduce the possibility of transmission between the different year groups. The reduced number of Boarders also enables us to reduce the number of children in each dorm, expected to be 2-4 per room depending on the size.  

Under the current constraints, we will not be able to offer our Steps to Boarding provision. Ideally, we hope to be able to reintroduce this later in the Autumn Term, but much will depend on prevailing circumstances regarding Covid-19 and the evolving government guidance.

Will wearing face masks be obligatory at Highfield?

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 would happen if, a pupil or a member of staff were to develop symptoms of COVID-19?

If a child develops a fever, or a new continuous cough, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell, they will be immediately isolated and cared for onsite by our school nurses. Parents will be informed, and we will arrange for the child to be tested. The guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection will be followed. At the present time, current guidance states that the ill person should remain in isolation for 7 days and the rest of the household in quarantine for 14 days. We would need to follow the government advice at the time for every individual case, but the current guidance suggests that pupils and staff who are not classified as being within the same household would be able to carry on coming into school.

If a day pupil, parent or member of staff should develop symptoms, they must remain at home and self-isolate for a period of 7 days. Their household must quarantine for 14 days.

What health care facilities are available at Highfield?

Highfield has a Health Centre which is situated within the main school building and is comprised of a Nurses’ Office a Resting Room (with beds and comfortable chairs) and a separate bathroom. 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 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 in September, 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 to start at the school in September, 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 at Highfield in September, 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 the quarantine requirements are still unknown. We are happy to be flexible and allow new pupils to start later in the Autumn Term, or to defer to January, 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 Autumn 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. 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.

 

 

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