The COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to near-total closures of boarding schools, schools, universities, and colleges. Most governments around the world temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to reduce the spread of the illness.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: “At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools closed their doors in 192 countries, sending 1.6 billion students home.”

“Today, almost nine months since the coronavirus outbreak started, 872 million students – or half the world’s student population – in 51 countries are still unable to head back to their classrooms.”

Truly Belong - How UK boarding schools have adapted during the pandemic

How UK Boarding Schools have adapted during the pandemic

Although the UK boarding school sector has been affected by the crisis, it must be noted that there has been a silver lining. The response of these world-leading schools has been rapid and child-focused.

The first demand as soon as schools were closed in March was to provide online learning environments that would provide rigour and challenge to children who could no longer attend class. Many schools quickly stood up to the challenge, with online classes and review sessions being organised. 

Schools reopened at the start of the new academic year, in September. Many borders returned from countries all over the world and quarantine and other safety measures were arranged. School management teams took a proactive approach to risk mitigation, combining the introduction of preventative practical measures alongside systems that influence the behaviour of individuals and ensure pupils operate in year group bubbles.

The introduction of hand sanitisers throughout schools, the use of fogging machines within classrooms, screens in communal areas, and the provision of reusable water bottles were just some of the many visible additions to school environments. Also significant was the overhaul of class timetables, which enabled year groups to be taught in specially spaced classrooms to promote social distancing. In addition, many boarding houses were restructured so that children can operate in year group bubbles, with restricted movement into and out of houses.

Training and constant reinforcement of personal hygiene has been paramount to developing self-responsibility amongst pupils and the majority of schools introduced the use of masks in communal spaces as a further reinforcement. Cleaning regimes across school sites were also tightened, with specially selected cleaning products used where appropriate.

According to Jimmy Beale, the founder of The English Education, a placement consultancy, UK boarding schools are amongst the safest learning environments in the world.

“There have been negative implications – social distancing is not easy or natural for children and it is a shame to see children being restricted, especially when very young. The language of COVID-19 is hard for to children to cope with and, for some the whole experience has been unsettling and challenging. The positive response to this has been the focus upon child welfare and mental health in all school environments,” said Beale.

“Children are resilient and flexible and have soon got used to their new learning environments. However, the most positive outcome is that of enforced independence as children are increasingly set tasks which demand less teacher input; that is a great educational development and allows for more academic risk-taking.”

Ahead of the start of term, we are pleased to share with you a selection of photos showcasing the measures we have put into place around school to ensure the safety of our pupils and staff.

Posted by Bryanston School on Friday, 4 September 2020

Second Citizenship Can Facilitate British Education

All international boarding pupils who do not have UK citizenship must obtain a Student visa. Although the process is simple for students, parents can have difficulties visiting their children as embassies in certain countries are closed due to COVID-19. 

For those wishing to obtain a Student visa to study in the UK, there are certain benefits to being a St Kitts and Nevis citizen. You are, for example, exempt from requirements to prove knowledge of the English language and you do not need to have a tuberculosis test if you reside in St Kitts and Nevis. Additionally, St Kitts and Nevis is a country on the UK’s ‘travel corridor’ list. This means that you are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the UK if you have spent the last 14 days in St Kitts and Nevis. Family members with St Kitts and Nevis citizenship can also easily visit their children who are studying in the UK because of their visa-free access.

In the UK, Commonwealth citizens are eligible for various scholarships for master’s degrees and PhD courses, which often cover tuition fees, living allowance, and travel.

The fastest and easiest way to attain St Kitts and Nevis citizenship is through the Citizenship by Investment Programme. Once vetted, investors can contribute to the Sustainable Growth Fund and receive citizenship. Along with the advantages of education and travel, citizenship can also be passed down. For a limited time, families of up to four can invest $150,000 and brighten their child’s path to high-quality education.

Read also: Ten reasons to choose St Kitts and Nevis

Feature Image Credit: The English Education

Dominique Heusdens