09 October 2020

Summer Programme COVID-19 Update

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There can be no doubt that COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on all areas of our lives, in all corners of the globe. When it comes to Summer 2021, COVID-19 is the elephant in the room. Those of us involved with summer schools knows it is already having an impact on parents deciding whether or not to send their children to the UK for a summer experience but lots of schools simply aren’t addressing it. At this stage, no one knows what the global situation will be in July 2021. Different experts all seem to have different opinions. Here at Sevenoaks, we have taken the decision to be proactive in our approach. As a school, we have had students back on campus for over a month now and, at the time of writing, we have not had a case of COVID-19 within the school. It is possible these may come and the winter approaches but if and when that happens, we will be ready for them, and carefully formulated plans are in place for exactly this eventuality.

Since early September, we have put a huge number of measures in to keep our community safe. These include but are not limited to:

  • Testing every single student and member of staff for COVID-19 at the start of the year.All tests came back negative
  • Purchasing two of our own COVID-19 testing machines which produces results in approximately 90 minutes. This allows us to test any student who displays COVID-19 symptoms and find out rapidly if they have the virus and if we need to quarantine them and their ‘bubble’
  • Introducing enhanced and regular cleaning of the entire campus at multiple times each day
  • Placing dozens of hand sanitizing stations throughout the school
  • Positioning a number of thermometers all over the campus allowing all students and staff to check their temperatures each day

It remains to be seen exactly what life will be like in nine months’ time and whether any or all of the above measures will still be needed. If they are, we will be ready for them, as we have been throughout this unprecedented time. On a normal school day, we have over 1000 students on site at any one time. On the Summer Programme, our capacity is 100, meaning that if it is needed, distancing will not be a problem on our 100-acre campus. We generally use two boarding houses in the summer; one for boys and one for girls. However, we have access to seven houses so, if needed, we have the facilities to spread out.

Unlike many summer schools in the UK, we will be the only group on campus when July comes, meaning we can feel secure in knowing that our community is healthy without having hundreds of other students on site at the same time. We will also have a Nurse in the school each morning to check on students who may not be feeling 100% and we enjoy a very strong and long-standing relationship with a doctors’ surgery in the town who can see students whenever they might be needed.

Parents might also be concerned about students being unable to travel to the UK due to quarantine rules which are currently in place. Again, with the Summer Programme being nine months away, we are optimistic that these restrictions will not be in place when July comes along. However, if either the UK insists on quarantine from a student’s country of origin or if the student’s country of origin forbids travel to the UK or insists on quarantine on return, then we would, of course, offer a full refund of any fees paid.

Pleasingly, we already have over 25 students from 14 different countries who have trusted us in signing up for Summer 2021 and we anticipate many more in the coming months.

Mr Edward Gibson, Director of Summer Programmes


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